LUNG transplants rose by 20% in 2013 and pancreas transplants went up 10% with about 15 percent of families approached in Spain refusing consent for organ donation.

The organ transplant system began in 1989 and identifies potential donors by closely monitoring emergency wards.

When they learn of a death, coordinators tactfully talk to the grieving families to get permission to harvest organs and help save the lives of others.

Italy and Portugal have employed a similar system and their organ donation rates are now also on the rise.

Rafael Matesanz, the director of the National Organisation of Transplants, said: “You have to break the news of the death well, explain the details of the procedure well and really listen. And the family almost always agrees to donate.”

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