Can a diabetic donate

People with type 1 or 2 diabetes can potentially donate organs

In mid-January, the majority of members of the Bundestag rejected the draft law to introduce a double contradiction solution in organ donation. The intense debates on this have brought the discussion of the topic back into the social consciousness. Because donor organs are rare. According to figures from the German Foundation for Organ Transplantation (DSO), 932 people across Germany donated one or more organs for a transplant after their death in 2019. Around 9,500 patients in Germany are currently waiting for a donor organ. People with type 1 or type 2 diabetes can also donate organs and tissues, provided certain conditions are met. Possible blood donors are people with type 2 diabetes with a stable metabolism and without insulin therapy. People with diabetes, on the other hand, cannot donate stem cells regardless of type.

More than 100,000 organ transplants are performed worldwide every year. In 2019 there were 3,192 in Germany. Of the approximately 9,500 patients across Germany who are waiting for a donor organ, most of them need a donor kidney. "In principle, only a few diseases rule out organ and tissue donation in principle," says Professor Dr. med. Thomas Haak, board member of diabetesDE - German Diabetes Aid and chief physician at the Diabetes Center Mergentheim. This applies, for example, to acute cancer or to people who have tested positive for HIV.

For all other diseases, including type 1 or 2 diabetes, doctors decide individually based on the condition of the organs about their suitability. "If these are healthy and functional, people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes can also be considered as donors," explains Professor Haak. In addition, there is no fixed age limit for organ and tissue donations. If people with diabetes opt for an organ donation card, they should state their metabolic disease on the document under "Space for comments / special information".

A person's organs may only be removed if the person concerned is brain dead, has an organ donor card or the consent has been recorded in a living will. If both do not exist, the relatives can make a decision in favor of the deceased for or against a donation.

On the other hand, at least insulin-treated people with type 1 or 2 diabetes cannot donate blood. Anyone who has type 2 diabetes but does not need insulin therapy and has a stable metabolism can generally donate blood. People with diabetes, regardless of their type and therapy, are generally excluded from donating stem cells because of the increased risks for donors and recipients.

People with type 1 or 2 diabetes can also be confronted with the need for a donor organ due to an advanced secondary disease. “This is especially true for people with chronic kidney failure due to nephropathy,” says Professor Haak. If no donor organ from a deceased person is available at the time, there is also the option of receiving a new kidney from a living donor. In Germany, however, this option is tied to strict requirements: living donors must be medically suitable, of legal age and capable of giving consent, and must voluntarily give their consent to the removal. In addition, living donations are only allowed to first and second degree relatives, spouses, registered partners, fiancés or other persons who are particularly close to the donor.

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