Organ donation in Switzerland: how to make your wishes clear

Find out more about organ donation

Gather information to make an informed decision

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Document your decision

Document your decision on donating organs in your living will

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Talk and share

Talk about organ donation and share your decision with your relatives

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Organ donation – talking about it,
Making and documenting your decision

Donate organs after you die? By specifying your wishes in writing and telling your relatives, you create clarity and ensure that your wishes are carried out. Do some research on organ donation before making a decision. Then specify your decision in writing in your organ donor card and/or your living will and tell your relatives.

What is organ donation?

Organ donation is where an organ donor provides human organs for transplantation into a recipient. Donated organs, tissue or cells can save lives and improve the recipient’s quality of life in the long term.

Which organs, tissue and cells can be donated?
You can donate your heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas (or their islet cells), small intestine, cornea, bones and cartilage, heart valves, blood vessels and skin. Nowadays, blood stem cells are only taken from a living donor.

Who can donate?
The donor’s health and how well the organs and tissue work are critical for donating organs, which is why organs, cells and tissue can usually be donated up to old age. Even people with certain medical conditions can donate.

How can I document my decision?

You have various options of documenting your wishes. Parents or legal guardians decide on organ donation for children and adolescents who are under 16 years of age. Anyone over the age of 16 can make the decision themselves.

Transplantation law

On 15 May 2022, the Swiss electorate accepted the new transplantation law, which will come into effect no earlier than on 1 January 2025. The new law will result in a change from the current amended consent solution to the amended opt-out solution. In the future, those who do not want to donate their organs must have their wishes expressly documented in a federal register. If the wishes of the deceased are unclear, the relatives will still make the decision based on what they believe the deceased would have wanted.

Living will
In the free living will from DeinAdieu, you can document which medical procedures you do and do not want in the event that you are no longer able to make the decision yourself due to an accident or illness. You can also document your wishes about organ donation here. Keep your living will with someone you trust, such as your lawyer, or store it with your municipality. Inform your relatives of your wishes so that they do not have the burden of making decisions on your behalf in the event you lose your capacity for decision-making. Important: if you wish to donate organs, but your relatives are against this, transplantation law states that the wishes of the deceased take precedence over the wishes of the relatives. From a legal perspective, the organs may therefore be removed. However, it has become common practice in Switzerland for ethical and moral reasons that if the relatives object to the donation, the organs will not be removed. Therefore, it is all the more important to talk about your wishes with your loved ones to ensure that they are carried out after you die (More information about the living will).

Organ donor card
Your organ donor card specifies whether or not you want to donate organs. Keep it with you at all times or keep it in a place that is known to your relatives. You can agree to donate in general or only certain organs, refuse the donation entirely, or nominate someone you trust to make the decision. The information on the organ donor card is not registered, which is why specifying your wishes in a living will and talking about organ donation with your relatives are the safest options.

Organ donor register in Switzerland
The Swiss National Foundation for Organ Donation and Transplantation Swisstransplant is the national allocation office responsible for allocating organs to recipients in line with the law and for managing the waiting list. You can register and document your wishes by completing a form at

Why talk about organ donation?

Documenting your wishes in writing is an important step. Inform your relatives of your decision, as they will be asked if your organ donor card cannot be found. They must take your presumed wishes into account when making a decision. The process is much simpler and faster if they already know what you want. Your relatives will also be spared further stress during their time of grief.

Create a living will with an organ donor card

  • In line with your personal wishes
  • Including organ donor card
  • Completely free – incl. card for your purse

Frequently asked questions

Is my last will and testament suitable for documenting my wishes regarding organ donation?

Your last will and testament is not a suitable document to state your wishes regarding organ donation as this document is opened after your death. It is then no longer possible to use your organs, tissue and cells.

When will the new organ donation law take effect?

The new transplantation law will take effect no earlier than 1 January 2025. Then, the so-called opt-out solution applies: those who do not want to donate organs must explicitly document their wishes in a federal register.

What preparatory medical procedures are involved?

Before organs are removed, preparatory medical procedures are performed on the donor that keep the organs, tissue or cells in a functioning condition, where possible, until they are transplanted. These measures include continuing mechanical ventilation, administering medication to regulate organ function, etc.

What is body donation?

By donating your body to the Institute of Anatomy at the University of Zurich, you are making an important contribution to the teaching of medical students and specialists in training. Surgical specialists in training have to learn and practice surgical techniques and new procedures that they will later use on patients; or such techniques and procedures must be developed and tested. Body donation is therefore very important for advancing medical teaching and research. More on this topic: body donation (University Hospital of Zurich).

Will I receive money for a donation?

Under transplantation law, it is forbidden to buy and sell organs, tissues and cells. Donations must be made free of charge and donors must not be given financial compensation.

What are good reasons for deciding to become an organ donor?

By donating organs, you can have a positive effect on up to 7 (9 if the lungs and liver are divided) lives. Transplantations often not only save the recipient’s life, but can also help to improve their quality of life.

What are the legal requirements for donating?

Organs, tissue and cells may only be removed from a deceased person if this person has agreed to their removal and has been declared dead. If there is no written consent (donor card, living will), the closest relatives decide; however, they must take the presumed wishes of the deceased person into account. If the deceased has no relatives, the removal of organs is prohibited. You can also nominate someone you trust to make the decision on your behalf (for example in your living will).