Organ donation

Organ transplants save lives. The prerequisite for this is the willingness to donate organs. Organs can only be removed from braindead individuals when the individual has an organ donor card or if the family agrees. In some circumstances, certain organs can be donated by healthy living individuals. Today, about 40% of all donor kidneys in Switzerland come from living donors.

Anyone who wishes to donate organs or tissue after their death can document this wish on an organ donation card (also known as an “organ donor card”) and express it to their relatives. You can download the donation card from Swisstransplant or obtain it from your family doctor. You can also ask for it at the USZ.

You can also record your wishes in a living will. An organ may only be removed if your consent is documented (organ donor card or living will) or if your relatives agree.

Decide and inform early on

Deciding whether to donate an organ is extremely difficult for relatives. The shock and grief of an accident or serious illness and the imminent death of a loved one are overwhelming. Our experience shows that it is a great relief for relatives to know the wishes of the dying person and to act accordingly. It is therefore very important to talk about organ donation within the family. If you have a donation card, keep it on you and inform your family about it.

At the University Hospital Zurich, the Clinical Ethics department can help you with difficult questions (life-prolonging measures, organ donation) and if you are unclear about the interpretation of an advance directive. Patients and relatives at the USZ can also contact the pastoral care service at any time. For general questions about organ donation in Switzerland or for advice on making a decision, you can contact the Donor Care Association.

Legal basis

In Switzerland, the extended consent solution applies in accordance with the new Transplantation Act of July 1, 2007. Article 8 of the Transplantation Act regulates which requirements must be met. Accordingly, the organs of a brain-dead person may only be removed if either the deceased person has expressed his or her wish to donate organs during his or her lifetime and can prove this with an organ donor card or if the next of kin consent to organ removal. The next of kin are also bound by the presumed wishes of the deceased. In certain cases, organ donation is also possible at the USZ after cardiac arrest and subsequent brain death (so-called non-heart-beating/DCD donation).