New Tattoo Initiative Raises Organ Donation Awareness!

Last update: March 14, 2024

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Junge Helden, an organ donation awareness organization in Germany, has partnered with advertising agency McCann Worldgroup to create a new initiative that aims to increase the country's organ donation rate. The result is #OPTINK, a free tattoo that serves as proof of will and consent to organ donation.

According to statistics, around 10,000 Germans are in need of organ transplants annually, with 3 of them dying every day due to the lack of donors. While 84% of the population is willing to donate, the number of donors in Germany only stands at 0.001% of the population. This is due in part to the fact that the country remains an "opt-in" nation when it comes to organ donations, meaning that individuals have to show explicit proof of consent to become donors, and there is no national register for organ donors.

The #OPTINK tattoo initiative aims to tackle this issue by turning a regular tattoo consent form into an organ donation consent form, providing an easily recognizable and scalable symbol for people to show their willingness to donate. The design, which was created by prominent Berlin-based tattoo artist Gara, features a half circle juxtaposed against another half to become a whole, symbolizing the gift of life that is organ donation.

The tattoo is not only a conversation starter but also a statement to family members about the person's opt-in donor status, as relatives hold the final decision. The campaign is promoted through the motto "Get inked. Give life," and Germans can get the tattoo for free at tattoo studios and events around the country.

The initiative was launched at one of Germany's most significant tattoo events, Die Tattoo Convention in Braunschweig, where the #OPTINK booth was fully booked for the duration of the event. The design also received an Honorable Mention in the convention's contest. It was later launched nationwide at Junge Helden's 20th-anniversary event, attended by the medical community, celebrities, and well-established tattoo artists.

The campaign arrives on the heels of the third anniversary of German parliament's rejection of a bill to change donor policy from "opt-in" to "opt-out," which would make everyone donors by default. Since its launch, the #OPTINK initiative has managed to turn tattoo studios all over the country into organ donation recruitment centers, with over 100 tattoos recorded, representing a potential of over 700 lives saved.

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