I am extremely grateful that Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier has accepted our invitation to write an Editorial on organ donation from a politician's point of view. For all of us who are actively involved in treating patients with end-stage heart and lung disease, organ shortage is an everyday problem [1–7]. However, there are large differences among European countries in terms of organ donation per million inhabitants, with these rates varying between 11.0 and 34.4%.
Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the former Foreign Minister (2005–09) and Vice Chancellor (2007–09) of Germany, has had a deep, continuing involvement in transplantation, both politically and privately. A true touchstone of his engagement for organ donation and transplantation was the fact that he donated a kidney to his wife last autumn. Therefore, Dr. Steinmeier is a perfect candidate to express his private and professional opinions about possible improvements in organ donation. We hope to increase organ donation in all European countries to meet the ever-increasing demand of an older population for more transplantations.