Organ transplant associations win top Spanish prize

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Two organ transplant associations, one American and one Spanish, were Wednesday awarded one of Spain's top honours, the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation.

The US Transplantation Society and Spain's National Transplant Organisation were named "for their crucial work in establishing the medical and ethical principles that govern clinical care and scientific research on organ transplantation", the Prince of Asturias foundation said.

The Transplantation Society, founded in 1966, "is the leading international organisation in every aspect of human transplantation: medical care, pharmacology, education and research", it said in a statement.

It "promotes the principle that organs and tissues should be donated freely and without coercion" and "opposes the current phenomenon of 'transplant tourism', in which people travel to developing countries to obtain organs."

The Spanish organisation, set up in 1980, aims "to maximize the number of transplants possible, allowing an organ to reach the person who needs it independently of the person's socioeconomic status, race, or religion".

Spain has become a world leader in organ donation since it set up a network of transplant coordinators in 1989 at all hospitals in the country which closely monitor emergency wards to identify potential donors.

The Asturias foundation annually hands out eight awards, each worth 50,000 euros (62,000 dollars) in the fields of communication and humanities, scientific and technical research, social science, arts, letters, international cooperation, international understanding and sport.

Last year's International Cooperation Award went to the UN World Health Organisation.

© 2010 AFP

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