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Facilitators and Barriers to the Use of Agent-Based Social Simulations in Organ Donation – A Technical and Ethical Analysis


Donated organs might be the difference between life and death for many patients but even if the organs are available, many patients die due to ineffective donor systems. Only in Sweden, 33 patients died in 2021 while being on the waiting list and Europe-wide this number is a staggering 10 deaths each day. Even when organs reach their recipient, there may still be issues of poor organ matches or organs being allocated to less needy recipients. Efforts to optimize the donor program have been ongoing for decades and even if progress is made, there are still important gaps in making the system fair and efficient while also adhering to ethical, legal, and social frameworks. Social simulations have proven to be promising tools for supporting policy making. They allow us to carry out harmless simulations on artificial populations and provide valuable insights through in silico experiments. So far, simulations of organ donation only focused on a limited number of aspects, such as waiting list prioritization strategies, registration in different donor service areas, and strategies for organ offering, thus failing to provide a framework for assessing the global effects of policies.


The project aims to investigate the potential of using Agent-based Social Simulations (ABSS) to support organ donation policy making and will address both the technical (DDLS) and ethical, legal, and social (WASP-HS) aspects.


European countries often use different donor policies, i.e. opt-out laws, to optimize the number of successful donations but changing strategy might pose a big risk if unsuccessful. A strategy that is successful in one country might not be in another and vice versa. To test which policies might work, ABSS, where an artificial population is used to generate synthetic (simulated) data, will be used.


The project will serve as an important pre-study to identify facilitators, barriers, and requirements for the development of an ABSS model of organ donation policies. The results will have an impact on all four DDLS research areas as a tool for generating and communicating data and particularly on the Data-driven Precision medicine and diagnostics research area, where it provides a new approach for assessing the effectiveness of different treatment policies.

Together, the project provides a concrete case for enabling a scalable precision personalized mental healthcare and wellbeing.


Start: September 2023
End: December 2025

Project type

Seed-Money between WASP-HS and DDLS


Universities and institutes

Lund University
Malmö University

Project members

Fabian Lorig

Associate Professor

Malmö University

Heidi Carmen Howard


Lund University