The number of Belgians who registered as organ donors soared to a record high last year, in a hike which brought the total number of registered donors in the country to over 300,000.
A total of 85,560 Belgian nationals signed up as donors last year, according to local media, an unprecedented figure which more than doubles the highest numbers of registrations recorded in past years.
Luc Colenbie, a transplant coordinator at Ghent University Hospital, attributes the hike to an unlikely source, citing a TV program named “Make Belgium Great Again” as driving the surge.
By comparison, the number of Belgians who signed up as donors in previous years varied, going from 10,000 in some years to up to 40,000 in others.
Despite the fact that last year’s push means that total of 356,280 people in Belgium are now registered as donors, Colenbie said that demand for some organs continues to exceed supply, as is the case for the heart, lungs, pancreas, liver and kidneys.
“Everything depends on the end of life,” he said. “When people get sick or die at home, their organs cannot save other lives.”
According to 2017 figures, Belgium was the third country with the highest organ donor rates in the world, behind Spain and Portugal.