The European Training Program on Organ Donation (ETPOD) was a Pan-European initiative that aimed at solving the lack of formal training programs in the field of organ donation. lt covers different educational levels, from basic knowledge among healthcare professionals, to specialized training for donor coordinators and hospital managers.

Organ shortage is the major limiting factor for transplant program development. As a result, waiting lists continue to grow. About 60,000 European citizens are currently on a donation waiting list, hoping to receive an organ that could save their life. However, nearly 10 – 30% of them will die without having the opportunity to receive a graft. Moreover, there are wide differences in how European countries organize their deceased organ procurement programs, which results in different donation rates ranging from 1.6 in Bulgaria to 34.4 in Spain in 2009.
Best practice analysis shows that the presence of a trained donor coordinator in every hospital is a key factor to increase donation rates.

ETPOD project was co-funded (60%) by the European Commission’s EU Public Health Programme (DG-Sanco 2005205). Its consortium included 20 partners from 17 European countries, selected according to their level of interest in the project, organizational model and pmp rates (from the lowest to the highest rates in Europe). Partner organizations ranged from State Agencies to Universities.

The project main objectives were: 

  • lncrease organ donation knowledge at large scale
  • Maximize the growth of organ donation rates
  • Disseminate training in a reliable and effective way

By means of:

  • Designing a training program at 3 different professional levels
  • lmplementing the training programs in 25 Target Areas (TA)
  • Measuring the impact on donation rates after training implementation


  • To build a solid European collaborative partnership in the organ donation-transplantation process that will enable to respond to the growing demand of organ replacement therapy by increasing donation rates.
  • To train Health Care Professionals from the European Union countries with the aim of providing them with the know-how, competences and motivation in the organ donation process, to grow to be Transplant Coordinators and lead organ donation-procurement programs in an efficient and successful way.
  • To design and validate a professional European Training Program On Organ Donation (ETPOD) at different involvement levels


All the foreseen courses were successfully implemented. The pedagogical objectives were achieved by training a total of 3291 healthcare professionals in the 25 TAs.

The number of utilized donors in the TAs increased from 15.7 ± 14.3 (95% CI: 9.8-21.6) to 20.0 ± 17.1 (95% CI: 13-27.1) (P = 0.014) and the number of organs recovered increased from 49.7 ± 48.5 (95% CI: 29.6-69.7) to 59.3 ± 52.1 (95% CI: 37.8-80.8) (P = 0.044).


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The methodology of the project responds to the cycle of: analysis of the country’s current situation, designing of adapted training program to the needs, validation and implementation of the program, follow-up, evaluation and, finally, analysis its transferability observing again the country’s current situation.

The strategy is sustained on the awareness that each participant country has different donation rates per million inhabitants (pmp); therefore the project includes the following actions:

  • Transfer of the accomplished expertise between countries with higher organization development within the process and those with less scope considering for the training programs international faculty staff from the different partner countries
  • Development of a European training program on organ donation addressed to different professionals’ profiles involved in the donation process at National, Regional, Local and Hospital levels
  • Design and adaptation of specific contents to be developed in accordance to the analysis of educational needs previously identified in each Target Area (TA)

Within this framework the learning methodology to implement the ETPOD will be based in two modalities: Blended learning and face-to-face training. Learning occurs when a series of processes takes place ending with the new knowledge assimilation and objectives accomplishment.

The experience-based learning action, that Transplant Procurement Management (TPM Project) as part of IL3, Institute for LifeLong Learning has successfully used, allows participants to acquire: up to date focused knowledge, development of the Know-how (professional competences and skills), the Show-how (performance of good practices) to finally enable them to perform concrete actions -Do- (application of the newly acquired knowledge and experience adapted to their own reality). Each WP defines a set of sequential actions to give fulfilment to the expected results.