Save a life by donating an organ
For many patients suffering from chronic, irreversible conditions, an organ transplant is the last possible treatment open to them. A heart, liver or kidney can save their life. Unfortunately, the demand for organs is currently greater than their supply.
While the donor is still alive
Some organs can be removed while the donor is still alive, because they regenerate quickly. As a result, a medical procedure of this kind involves a low level of risk for the donor when compared with the health benefits for the recipient. Such a donation is only possible with the prior consent:
- of the donor, if he or she is aged at least 15
- of the donor’s spouse or partner
- of the parents or legal representative of the donor, if he or she is a minor
When the medical consequences for the donor are greater, removing organs can only be contemplated if the life of the recipient is in danger.
In every case, the doctor in charge of the medical procedure is required to give the donor the clearest possible explanation about the physical, psychological and social effect that removing an organ will entail.
After death: silence means consent
If you are a Belgian national or have lived in Belgium for more than 6 months, the law authorises the removal of your organs after your death, except if:
- You have specifically stated your refusal while you were still alive.
- Your immediate family (children, parents or spouse) objects to it.
If you do not wish organs or tissue to be removed from your body after your death, you will need to complete a document to be sent to your local authority.
Should you donate your organs or not? To prevent your nearest and dearest from having to cope with this painful choice after your death, you can draft a consent form. This form is available from your local authority.
In addition to the various precautions surrounding the donation of organs, it is:
- free of charge
- carried out will all the respect due to your mortal remains
Once lodged with your local authority, your consent form can always be modified at a later date.
If you fulfil certain precise criteria that guarantee the chances of a transplant being successful, the transplant coordinator will consult the database at your local authority after your death. The coordinator will check to see whether you have registered your refusal or consent to donate your organs.
To find out more, visit the federal organ donation website at www.beldonor.be (French – Dutch – German).