German Organ Transplantation Foundation (DSO)

The German Organ Transplantation Foundation (Deutsche Stiftung Organtransplantation – DSO) is the federal coordination agency for organ donations. Its task is to promote organ donation and transplantation in Germany. The DSO ensures the country-wide coverage and continuous availability of organ donations. Beside the main office in Frankfurt there are seven DSO regions in which coordinators are responsible for the conduct of every organ donation. They are working in close collaboration with the 1,260 German hospitals housing an intensive care unit in 2016, the 46 German organ transplantation centres and the Eurotransplant agency in Leiden (Netherlands).

The DSO was founded in Neu-Isenburg on 7 October 1984. Paragraph 11 of the German Transplantation Act which came into force in 1997 stipulates that there must be a federal institution responsible for the preparation and organisation of organ donation. Given the legislator’s decision to apply the principle of self-regulation, the groups affected by the organ donation process – the German National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Funds (GKV-Spitzenverband), the German Medical Association (Bundesärztekammer) and the German Hospital Society (Deutsche Krankenhausgesellschaft) – should either establish an appropriate institution themselves or commission the task. The responsibility was thus commissioned to the DSO on 27 June 2000. The adherence to the contractual agreements is ensured by the test and surveillance committee of the commissioners. The funding of the coordination agency DSO is secured by a budget that is prospectively negotiated for a period of three years – based on the expected number of organ transplantations. Hospitals that are involved in an organ donation procedure receive lump-sum payments from the DSO to cover their expenses.

In August 2013 the DSO adopted a new statute that should ensure more public legal surveillance over the process of organ procurement. Through this it implemented the political demand of representing the federal government and the federal states in its deciding bodies. Since then, representatives of the federal government and the regional states are members on the DSO's board of trustees and they hold two seats in the National Professional Advisory Board ("Bundesfachbeirat") which develops detailed procedural instructions for the process of posthumous organ donation. 

Website of the German Organ Transplantation Foundation (DSO): Online Version

Annual Report on Organ and Tissue Transplantation (2022): Online Version (German)

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