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Living donors

Certain organs may also be transplanted from living donors. In Switzerland it is possible to transplant the kidneys and part of the liver. Outside Switzerland, parts of the lungs, the small intestine and, in very rare cases, of the pancreas are also transplanted from living donors. In 2019, 110 living donations were made in Switzerland.

In the case of living donations, a differentiation is made between directed and non-directed, or altruistic, donations. In directed donations, a donor declares themselves willing to donate a kidney or a part of their liver to a specified recipient. Almost all cases occur among family members (parents, siblings, spouses), although donations are also made among friends. In such instances, the donor knows who their organ is going to benefit. In non-directed donations, the donor decides to donate a kidney to an unknown recipient, on humanitarian or altruistic grounds. In this case, donors and recipients remain anonymous, and organ allocation follows the same rules as for deceased donors. Altruistic liver living donations are not carried out in Switzerland, as donating the smaller left hepatic lobe constitutes a considerable risk for the donor.

Strict checks for living donations

Prior to any living donation, the donor is required to undergo a thorough medical and psychological evaluation. This involves strict testing of the functionality of the kidneys and other organs as well as a thorough blood analysis. The psychological evaluation assesses a person’s motives for donating an organ, and verifies they are doing so of their own free will. A living donation will only be considered if all requirements are met.

The entire living donation procedure will be covered by the recipient’s health insurance provider. It is prohibited to grant or derive financial gain or any other advantage from a donation of human organs, tissues or cells. The compensation for any loss of income or other unavoidable expenses incurred by the donor, and compensation for damage incurred by the donor as a result of the removal of organs, tissues or cells are not regarded as financial gain or other advantage.

Are you interested in becoming a living donor? Please contact your nearest transplantation centre for more information.