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Scandiatransplant history

The History of Scandiatransplant

The very beginning

The first kidney transplantation in the Scandiatransplant area was performed in Oslo in 1956 utilizing whole body irradiation and cortison, but it was after azathioprine became available that clinical transplantation really started. Kidney transplantations were performed in all the countries except Iceland in 1964.The pioneers of clinical organ transplantation in the Nordic countries had during 1967 and the beginning of 1968 a number of informal meetings discussing transplantation related issues such a legislation, ethical issues and practical aspects.  It had recently been shown that HLA tissue antigen compatibility improved graft survival after cadaveric kidney transplantation. To achieve the possibility of a better HLA match it was important to increase the size of the recipient pool. The idea of a Nordic cooperative effort was put forward to the health authorities in the Nordic countries. They supported the idea and also suggested that financial support should be sought from the Nordic Council. It was suggested in December 1968 to establish a «Nordic Expert Committee of Transplantation» and it was established with representation from the relevant transplant communities. The mandate for the committee would be to register the practical problems that would lend themselves to Nordic cooperation, in addition, to give the national health authorities advice on cooperation in the field of dialysis and kidney transplantation.  The people who were appointed by the Health Authorities agreed on the principles of such an organization at a meeting in 24th of February 1969. The minutes of first meeting after appointment of the committee held 14th of June 1969 are headed:  “The Committee for inter Nordic transplant surgery (Scandiatransplant)”. The participants of this meeting were Kissmeyer, Fjeldborg, Hess-Thaysen, Kuhlback, Lindstrøm, Efskind, Thorsby, Flatmark, Gelin, Hood, and Lundgren. It was decided that the reference HLA-tissue typing laboratory should be in Aarhus and the Scanditransplant Office is still today located at the Department of Clinical Immunology at Aarhus University Hospital.

The first clinical successful liver transplantation took place in Helsinki in 1982, while the first heart (1983) and lung (1986) transplantations were performed in Oslo.

The first exchange of an ABO and HLA matched deceased donor kidney within this organization took place in the beginning of March 1969 when a deceased donor kidney from Gothenburg was transported for transplantation to Aarhus. According to data available at Scandiatransplant the first exchange of a liver (Helsinki to Gothenburg) was in 1985 and the first exchange of a heart was in 1988 (Gothenburg to Olso). The first exchange of a lung (Malmø to Helsinki) was in 1990.

Until 1992 main and common issues were handled by the Nordic Expert Committee consisting of colleagues in transplantation from the Nordic countries.  In 1992 this body produced the first Articles of the Association Scandiatransplant. The chairman Gunnar Tufvesson (S) was the driving force together with Medical Director Lars Lamm (DK), Melvin Madsen (DK), Arnt Jakobsen (N) and the general secretary Krister Höckerstedt (FI)


The Articles of the Association ‘foreningen Scandiatransplant’ produced in 1992 was only changed a little throughout the years, however in 2014-2016 they underwent a major revision. ( A modern database accessible 24/7 with all Nordic patients waiting for an organ transplant was created.  The structure of the Association was and is today decentralized.  The allocation of organs is performed by the health personnel in the transplant centers selecting the donors, performing the organ retrievals and transplantations of the different organs. Allocation of organs within the Nordic countries is conducted by the center personnel according to rules adopted by the members (=transplant hospitals) of Scandiatransplant. An office was established in Aarhus, Denmark, to develop and maintain the database. Today Scandiatransplant has many tasks including service to and education of database users, communication with Nordic national competent health authorities, EU, other Organ Exchange Organizations, international transplant registries, awarding Research and Travel Grants and producing statistics regarding organ transplantation and donation to the public. At the end of 2014 more than 30000 organ transplantations have been performed with the help of Scandiatransplant.