Rafael Matesanz

Creator and founder of the National Transplant Organization


English, French, Italian, Spanish

Rafael Matesanz is a Spanish neurologist and creator and founder of the National Transplant Organization (NTO), which made Spain a worldwide benchmark in organ donors. He ran the NTO from 1989 to 2001 and from 2004 to 2017, when he retired. Under his leadership, the NTO boosted its average donation rate from 14 donors per million inhabitants in 1989 to 40 in 2016, the highest in the world. This success is due to efficient co-ordination of the entire management chain: hospitals, doctors, waiting lists, judges, legislators, security forces, logistics and state, regional and local administrations.

Matesanz is more than an inspiring leader, he is a benchmark in areas like coordinating multi-disciplinary teams, the design and execution of complex processes, adapting to change, working under pressure, leadership, generating trust and reputation, efficiency and changing culture in society. He has long experience as a speaker and has shared his experience in creating the Spanish transplant model with all kinds of audiences, from experts in health care planning and medical researchers to university students from all walks of life.

Doctor in Medicine and Surgery, he was head of Nephrology at the Ramón y Cajal University Hospital. In the course of his career, he has held a wide range of posts, including running the National Health Institute (INSALUD) from 1996 to 2000. One example of his international repute are his successive chairmanships of the European Transplant Council’s Committee of Experts (1995-2000 and 2003-2005) and of the Latin American Organ Donation and Transplants Council (since 2005) and his role as Advisor to the World Health Organisation. In 2010, he received the Principe de Asturias Prize for International Co-operation as the face of the NTO.

Doctor Matesanz is the author of over 500 specialist articles and about one hundred chapters in monographies on nephrology, organ donation and transplants. His desire to disseminate his model to the general public led him to write 'El Milagro de los Trasplantes' (Esfera de los Libros, 2006).

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