Organ donation: How you provide clarity
Inform yourself about organ donation
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Discuss and share
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Organ donation – talk about it,
Make a decision and record it in writing
Donate organs after death? Put your decision down in writing and share it with your relatives. This creates clarity and ensures that your will is implemented. Deal with the topic of organ donation and make a decision. Put it down in writing on your donation card and/or patient decree and share it with your relatives.
What is organ donation?
In organ donation, the organ donor provides human organs to the recipient for transplantation. Donated organs, tissues or cells can save human lives and sustainably improve the quality of life.
Which organs, tissues and cells can be donated?
The heart, the lungs, the liver, the kidneys, the pancreas (or its islet cells), the small intestine, the cornea, bones and cartilage, heart valves, blood vessels and skin can be donated. At present, blood stem cells are only obtained from living donors.
Who can donate?
The decisive factor in organ donation is the donor’s state of health and the functional capacity of the organs and tissues, which is why organs, cells and tissues can usually be donated into old age. People with certain diseases can also donate.
How can I record my decision?
There are many ways to record your decision about organ donation. For children and adolescents who have not yet reached the age of 16, it is the parents, respectively the legal guardians, who make the decision about organ donation. Every person who has reached the age of 16 can decide for him- or herself.
On May 15, 2022, the Swiss electorate approved the new Transplantation Act, which will come into force on January 1, 2025 at the earliest. This will result in a change from the currently applicable extended consent solution to the extended objection solution. In the future, therefore, those persons who do not wish to donate their organs should explicitly record their will in a federal register. If the will of the deceased person is unclear, the relatives still make decisions on behalf of the deceased person.
In the free patient decree from DeinAdieu, you can record which medical measures you agree and disagree with for the event that you are no longer able to decide yourself due to an accident or an illness. You can also record your decision regarding organ donation in your patient decree. Deposit your patient decree with a confidant, such as your lawyer, or deposit it with your commune. Share your decision with your relatives so that for the event that you are incapable of judgement, they are not burdened with making the decision for you. Important: If you decide to donate your organs, but your relatives would be against it, the Swiss Federal Act on the Transplantation of Organs, Tissues and Cells stipulates that the will of the deceased person takes precedence over the will of the relatives. Therefore, from a legal point of view organs can be removed. In Switzerland, however, for ethical and moral reasons, the practice has prevailed that if relatives refuse a donation, no organs are removed. This is precisely why it is all the more important to discuss your decision with your loved ones – that way you can ensure that your will is enforced even after your death (further information on patient decree).
Organ donor card
You can record your decision regarding organ donation in your donor card and carry it with you or keep it somewhere known to your relatives. You can agree to a donation in general or in a differentiated manner, reject an organ donation in general, or delegate the decision to a confidant. The information in the donation card is not registered, which is why it is safest to put down your decision in a patient decree and to talk to your relatives about organ donation.
National organ donor register Switzerland
The National Foundation for Organ Donation and Transplantation, Swisstransplant, is responsible, in its capacity as National Allocation Office, for the allocation of organs to recipients and is in charge of the corresponding waiting list. You can register at www.swisstransplant.org and record your decision about organ donation using a form.
Why talk about organ donation?
Writing down your decision is an important step. Share it with your family and friends, because in the absence of a donor card, the next of kin are asked if they are aware of their relative’s wishes. If they are not, they have to make the decision, taking into account your presumed wishes. The process is much easier and faster if they already know your real wishes. In addition, your relatives will not be burdened further in a situation of great pain.
Create easily a valid patient decree
- Tailored to your individual wishes
- Effective immediately without a notary
- Absolutely for free – including a card for your wallet
Frequently asked questions
Is a will suitable for recording my will regarding organ donation?
A will is not suitable to record your will regarding organ donation, as a will is opened only later after your death. The donation of your organs, tissues and cells is then no longer possible.
When does the new organ donation regulation come into force?
The new transplant law will not go into effect until January 1, 2025 at the earliest. Then the so-called “contradiction solution” will apply: anyone who does not want to donate organs will have to state this explicitly in a federal register.
What are preparatory medical measures?
Prior to organ removal, preparatory medical measures are carried out. These serve the purpose of keeping the organs, tissues or cells in as functional a state as possible until transplantation and include the continuation of an already started artificial respiration, the administration of drugs to regulate organ function, etc.
What is body donation?
By donating your body to the Institute of Anatomy at the University of Zurich, you make an essential contribution to the education of medical students and prospective specialists. Prospective surgical specialists must learn and practise surgical techniques and new procedures that they will later use on patients, respectively such techniques must be developed and tested. Body donation is therefore very important for the development of medical teaching and research. Further information: body donation (UZH).
Do I receive money for an organ donation?
The Swiss Federal Act on the Transplantation of Organs, Tissues and Cells prohibits the trade in organs, tissues and cells. A donation must be made free of charge and cannot be financially compensated.
What are good reasons to choose organ donation?
With organ donation, up to 7 (respectively 9 if the lungs and the liver are also donated) lives can be positively influenced. Transplants often not only enable the patients’ survival, but also help improve the quality of life.
What are the legal requirements for an organ donation?
Organs, tissues or cells may only be removed from a deceased person if consent has been granted and death has been determined. If no documented consent by the deceased person is available (donor card or patient decree), the next of kin are asked to decide. They have to make the decision, taking into account the deceased person’s presumed wishes. If there are no next of kin, the removal of organs is prohibited. You can also delegate the decision to a confidant (e.g. in a patient decree).
Where can I find further information?
Campaign “Leben ist teilen”
FOPH Transplant medicine
University Hospital Zurich