About the donation procedure
In the Netherlands, if the deceased appears suitable for donation, a doctor will consult the Dutch Donor Register to see whether permission for donation has been given, and if so, for which organs and tissues. If no preference has been indicated, then the question will be put to the deceased's relatives.
After permission an investigation will be carried out
Once permission has been established, an investigation will be carried out as to which organs and tissues are suitable for donation. Additionally, a doctor or nurse will ask the relatives about any illnesses the deceased may have had, medications they were using, lifestyle and/or smoking and drinking habits. Their blood will also be tested for any diseases that could be passed on to the beneficiary.
If an organ or tissue appears suitable for donation, the hospital will contact the organ donation centre. The staff there will check the waiting lists to see who is most suited to the organs or tissues supplied by the donor. This patient will then need to come into hospital for the transplant operation as soon as possible. If multiple organs or tissues are found to be suitable, it may even be possible to help several people.
The deceased will remain on a life support machine
Once the family has said their farewells to the deceased, the preparations for organ removal will begin. Until that time, the deceased will remain in Intensive Care on a life support machine to keep the organs supplied with oxygen; this is necessary to ensure that they remain suitable for transplanting. The time between the deceased being pronounced dead and the removal of the organs depends on a variety of factors, but will generally be between 4 and 12 hours.
The operation will be carried out with the greatest care and respect for the deceased. The areas that have been operated on will be stitched up and covered with plasters. The operation will last between 3 and 6 hours. If permission for tissue donation has also been given, then this procedure will take place afterwards, and will take a further 3 to 4 hours.
The deceased will be returned to Intensive Care after their operation to give their relatives the chance to see them again. The donation will not affect the deceased's preference to be buried or cremated in any way, nor will there be any need to delay the funeral proceedings; everything can proceed on schedule.