In Brazil, 40,000 people (between adults and children) are on the waiting lists for organ transplants. Patients are placed on a national database, which is sorted by the urgency in which the patient needs the procedure. When a new organ is available, the priority is for patients in the same region as the donor. If the authorities can’t find a local recipient, the search is broadened to the whole country.
There were 24,958 transplants in 2016 and 26,200 the following year, an all-time record, according to the Brazilian Association for Organ Transplants. But the waiting line could be smaller. According to the association, relatives of potential donors refuse to donate the deceased’s organs in 43 percent of cases – in the rest of the world, that rate is at 25 percent.
The majority of those who are waiting on transplant need either a kidney (20,523), corneas (10,254) or a liver (1,203). So it might seem that having 260 Brazilians waiting for a heart transplant is a low number, but it is not. Today, Brazil is capable of meeting only 23 percent of the demand for these essential organs. Last year, 380 patients received a new heart, but the demand was much higher: at 1,638.