Organ and tissue donation


Organ donation

Organ donation is the donating of a healthy organ by a donor, to replace the recipient's sick organ.
An organ transplant is the removal of an organ from the donor and implanting the organ into the recipient (by a surgical team).

Organ (medical)

An organ (medical) is a differentiated structure consisting of cells and tissues and performing some specific function in an organism.


Tissue is an aggregate of cells of a particular kind and with the same function.

Substantive aspects

The subject of organ donation is regularly in the news. For years there has been a lack of organs, in other words there are more people on a waiting list for a new (donor) organ than there are available organs.

Many people have little enthusiasm for and interest in organ donation.

To a significant extent, this is determined by the uncertain and particularly forced situation surrounding the death of the victim, the potential donor.

Other objections can also be heard. These vary from a vague aversion to a more ‘principled’ point of view, depending on the philosophy of life one adheres to. For instance, New Age supporters and anthropologists exhibit strong reservations because it does not fit well into their vision on humankind. This also applies to more orthodox oriented people.

The hurdle for donating certain organs is often very high. In particular with heart and lung transplants, it is a requirement that the organ be removed while the heart is still beating, because this means that the period during which the organ is deprived of fresh blood (oxygen) is as brief as possible.

The question that arises with many people is: ‘May someone who has been pronounced brain dead be considered to be ‘really’ dead, soulless?’

It is not only (orthodox) Christians who have difficulty with this.

Nowadays, various organs are also still usable with a so-called non-heart beating procedure. The patient has ‘really’ died, his brain function has fully stopped and his heart no longer beats. Because the dilemma surrounding brain death does not apply in this situation, for some close relatives it can be less objectionable to grant permission for removing organs. This removal procedure must be started within five minutes of death. Emotionally, this is always a very difficult moment. The more so in these situations, because death is usually the consequence of stopping the respiration.

Donating a kidney to a relative

Tissue donation is ethically less sensitive: because tissue, skin and the corneas can be removed hours after the time of death, this does not interrupt the grieving process. Also the application of the transplanted tissue poses less problems, the rejection response is a lot less. Moreover, rejection symptoms will not have an immediate life threatening impact on the survival of the recipient.
Blood transfusion is really a form of tissue transplant.