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Short history of Eurotransplant
Eurotransplant was founded in 1967 in Leiden, the Netherlands, by Prof. Dr. Jon J. van Rood.The aim was to allocate kidneys on the basis of matching for the histocompatibility antigens, the HLA system. A central registry was established were the data of patients from several European countries were entered. In case of availability of a donor in one of the countries the most suitable recipient was selected on the basis of matching. A significant increase of patient and graft survival was the consequence. Currently, more than 70 transplant hospitals in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Luxemburg, the Netherlands and Slovenia participate in Eurotransplant leading to a joint kidney waiting list of approximately 15,000 patients. Furthermore, patients awaiting a suitable liver, heart, pancreas, lung and small bowel are registered in ET.
The Eurotransplant Reference Laboratory
The Eurotransplant Reference Laboratory (ETRL) was founded shortly after the central registry was established. Aim of the ETRL was to increase the reliability of transplantation-related histocompatibility testing, including HLA typing, crossmatching, and screening for HLA specific antibodies in the patients sera. The ETRL provided until recently HLA typing sets to the laboratories participating in the frame of Eurotransplant, retyped all organ donors and organised proficiency testing schemes. In the early period spleen samples were made available to the participants. Later, peripheral blood cells from healthy blood donors were sent out. Thanks to the activities of the ETRL, ET was the first organ exchange organisation which established External Proficiency Testing (EPT) for DNA typing and requires an accreditation of the European Federation for Immunogenetics or its American sister organization ASHI for the laboratories that report histocompatibility data to the Eurotransplant Network Information System.
In 1985, the ETRL provided a special program for highly sensitised patients. These patients have a longer waiting time because of high percentages of panel reactive antibodies (PRA). The Acceptable Mismatch Program increases the chances of such patients to receive an organ offer significantly, with excellent graft survival rates (link to publications AM).
The proficiency-testing schemes of the ETRL aim to to assess, maintain and improve the quality of HLA typing, screening for HLA specific antibodies and crossmatching of the Tissue Typing Centre affiliated to ET, and many other European organ exchange organisation like Scandia Transplant, Hellenic Transplant and Bultransplant. As first organisation ET adopted The Standards for Histocompatibility Testing of EFI. These Standards form an essential basis for the External Proficiency Testing and Assurance in the frame of ET.