Organ tourism under attack

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Belgium is one of Europe's top suppliers of donated organs.

Some ten percent of the organs donated in Belgium end up in foreigners. Dutch people snap up the lion's share.

Belgium is one of Europe's top suppliers of donated organs. Belgians who pass away are responsible for some 900 organ donations each and every year.

Most of these organs end up being used in Belgium, but ten percent are exported to six other countries that have signed a co-operation accord with Belgium or end up with foreigners being treated in Belgian hospitals.

Senator Patrick Vankrunkelsven (Flemish liberal) is unhappy with this situation. He points to the long waiting lists for organs in Belgium and says that foreigners often jump to the head of the queue because they come here when their situation is critical.

In principle Belgium should get back an organ for every one exported but this is not always the case.

Mr Vankrunkelsven is pressing for more guarantees to ensure that Belgium also gets its share of organs from abroad. He told VRT that Belgium should not become victim of the system just because it has adequate legislation governing this issue.

He believes other countries too should address organ donation in a better way.

In Belgium people have to opt out if they do not wish their organs to be available for donation after their death.

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