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Franz Immer assumes FOEDUS presidency

Franz Immer, CEO of Swisstransplant, was elected as the new President by the member states of FOEDUS (European Organ Exchange Organization) in April this year. He took office in mid-September.

FOEDUS is an association of European countries that promotes the exchange of organs across borders. If a donor organ cannot be allocated to suitable recipients within the borders of a given country, it is referred to other European countries through the IT platform of FOEDUS. FOEDUS is based on the EU Directives on standards of quality and safety for human organs intended for transplantation (2010) and the EU Directive defining information procedures for exchanging organs intended for transplantation (2012).

Foundation and development

From 2008 to 2013, the FOEDUS platform was developed within the scope of an EU project with the aim of further optimizing the exchange of organs across borders. Switzerland’s Swisstransplant was one of the initiators of cross-border organ exchange. Swisstransplant had previously launched the European Children Heart Waiting List in 2009 due to the high mortality rate of children on the heart transplant waiting list (roughly 80 per cent). Thanks to this project, children’s hearts for which no suitable recipients were listed in a given country could be offered to foreign partner organizations and transplanted in neighbouring countries.



Figure 1: Member states (status as of October 2020, Eurotransplant accession by 2021 in discussion).
Source: FOEDUS



Facilitated exchange of organs

The South Alliance of Transplantation (SAT countries) is a partnership of the national organizations of France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the Czech Republic and Switzerland in the area of cross-border organ exchange as well as training issues and process standardization. 2015, the FOEDUS platform was further developped by the SAT countries.  The programme now has 14 member states and reaches a total population of 372 million people. Thanks to this transnational cooperation, almost 1,000 organs were offered through this platform in Europe from the launch on 1 June 2015 to the end of 2019. Over time, the number of offers has risen to around 18 organs per month.

Figure 2: Organs exchanged through FOEDUS between 1 June 2015 and 31 December 2019.
Source: FOEDUS



Further development necessary

The previous President, Premysl Fryda of the Czech Coordination Centre KST, established the structures of the organization and expanded the circle of member states during his term. Franz Immer, new FOEDUS President and long-standing Director of Swisstransplant, now wants to put the focus primarily on optimizing processes and increasing the number of transplants. During his presidency, the emphasis will be on clinical and qualitative aspects, and international cooperation is to be further strengthened.

The fact that partnership in the areas of organ donation and transplantation has proven its worth was most recently demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic. European countries increasingly exchanged experience and guidance and sought to allocate organs to patients on waiting lists across national borders whenever possible.

Image caption: Dr jur. Premysl Fryda, Deputy Director KST, and PD Dr med. Franz Immer, CEO Swisstransplant at the handover of the presidency in Tachau, Czech Republic, wearing face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Both of them are founding members of the association “FOEDUS Organ Exchange Platform”.