Peak year for Sweden's largest transplant centre

Director of Transplant Centre in scrubs in operating room
Photographer: Johanna ewald st Michaels

More donors than usual, amendments to law on organ donations and a new regional donation centre. Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Sweden's largest transplant centre, has every reason to believe in a new record year for transplants in 2023.

328 transplants were carried out at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in 2022, a number that Niclas Kvarnström, Director of the Transplant Centre, is very satisfied with.

- The future looks bright, says Niclas Kvarnström, Director of the Transplant Centre at Sahlgrenska University Hospital.

The positive trend from before the pandemic is back.

- In 2019, we had an all-time high with around 373 transplants. In 2022, we reached 328, the best year since the pandemic started.

The positive result would not have been possible without an increase in the number of donors. Niclas Kvarnström points to two events in 2022 that contributed to the increasing number.

- On July 1 a new law on organ donations entered into force. It clarifies the right to continue caring for a patient even though life cannot be saved. In the past, it was up to each unit to interpret the law and there was an insecurity in that.

Being able to continue caring for a dying patient means a greater opportunity to take advantage of organs from those who want to donate.

- In 2022, we have also received approval for the technology to use organs from people who have died after a controlled circulatory arrest in an intensive care unit. Intensive training and active implementation have yielded results. It has probably led to more donations, says Niclas Kvarnström.

Donation center on site

Last but not least, a regional donation centre has come into place.

- Regional donation centre, RDC, was inaugurated in January. This means that an intensive care unit that considers itself to have a potential donor can contact the RDC with a simple phone call, which provides support by, among other things, sending out a specialist-trained nurse as direct support in the process.

The way of supporting intensive care units has already had a clear effect on organ availability in other countries.

- All in all, we see that new technology, new legislation and a new regional donation centre will give more and more people the chance to donate their organs, which could lead to 2023 being a new record year.

Facts: Transplants in 2022

Sahlgrenska University Hospital is the only transplant centre in Sweden that performs all types of organ transplants.

In 2022, 328 out of a total of 754 transplants in Sweden were carried out at the hospital. 18 of the 328 were transplants on patients from Iceland.

During the year, the hospital handled a total of 89 donors (of which ten from Iceland). The figure for the entire country is 206, 14 more than last year.

Number of transplants at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in 2022 per organ (number in the whole country in brackets)

Heart 23 (54)

Lungs 34 (49)

Kidney 174 (465) of which 99 living donor

Pancreas 6 (18)

Liver 90 (166)

Small bowel 1 (1)*

Combined heart and lung 0 (1)

* The transplant centre at Sahlgrenska University Hospital is the only hospital in Sweden that carries out intestinal transplants.