If I am a registered donor, what will happen to my body after my death?

When you record your consent in the Register, you can specify which organs or tissue you would like to donate. Whether or not organs or tissue are actually used for transplant depends on several factors, like their quality and whether or not you die in hospital.

Which organs and tissue can be transplanted?

Not all organs and tissue types are suitable for transplant. Organs that can be transplanted are the heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and intestines. The skin, bone tissue (including tendons and cartilage), eye tissue, heart valves and blood vessels are transplantable forms of tissue.

You can find information about donation procedures on the website of the Dutch Transplant Foundation (NTS).

Medical reasons for not becoming a transplant donor

Even if you are a registered donor, your organs or tissue may be rejected after your death for medical reasons, for instance if you:

  • had blood poisoning (sepsis)
  • were infected with a virus
  • acquired a tattoo or piercing in the 6 months before your death.

Donation only when the donor dies in hospital

Organ donation is only possible when the donor has died in hospital. Organs need a supply of oxygen-rich blood to remain suitable for transplantation. Donors are put on artificial respiration to keep their heart beating, so that oxygen-rich blood continues to circulate through their body.

By contrast, tissue donation is often possible if the donor dies in a non-hospital setting.

Age of donors

There is no general age limit. Although the heart of an 80-year-old person would be too old for transplantation, their skin might still be suitable.