Organ Donation

In Switzerland, the following organs can be donated and transplanted: heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, small intestine and pancreas. Tissues and cells which can be transplanted include the cornea, skin, heart valves and large blood vessels, bones, cartilage, tendons and ligaments and haemocytoblasts.⠀⁠⁠⁠

Despite advances in medical technology and awareness, the demand for organ, eye and tissue donation still vastly exceeds the number of registered donors. ⁠⁠

You find the thought of organ donation scary? That’s understandable. We don’t like to talk about about death. But we can make these sections ourselves. Before our death. That makes sections easier for our loved ones and saves lives for those waiting for an organ.

People are scared that when they declare themselves as Organ donor they won’t receive the medial care they should receive. But the opposite is true: only a patient with optimal intensive care can become an organ donor.

To donate organs like the heart or the lungs, the donor needs to be brain dead. They can no longer feel any pain and the person is no longer conscious. In order to be able to feel, the brain stem must still be active.

In this situation, a person is given artificial respiration because they can no longer breathe themselves. And without breathing, we die. Breathing is needed to keep the heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, kidney and small intestines suitable for transplantation. Because a brain dead person can no longer breathe themselves, they are put on a ventilator, a machine that breathes for them. That means the chest of this person still moves up and down. But only because a machine blows air into the lungs. Because the machine breathes for the person, the heart still beats and the blood circulates.  

By law there is a fixed procedure and that all hospitals must follow to declare a person to be brain dead. The procedure lists all examinations that physicians must perform step by step in order to declare brain death.

In Switzerland, you currently must have a donor card or you must have expressed your consent to organ removal in the event of death to their relatives while still alive. You can order a donor card from Swisstransplant – the Swiss National Foundation for Organ Donation and Transplantation. More information on their website.

Or you register online with the Swiss Organ Register. Detailed information how to register is available on the Swiss Transplant website. You change or remove your decision at any time.

You can also set up your organ donor card on your iphone: open the Health app, tap Medical ID, then scroll down to Organ Donation.

Posted on August 02, 2019 by Luitgard Holzleg

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