This guide explains how to donate your organs after your death. It’s very easy: just get an organ donor card.
How to register as an organ donor
Germany has no organ donor registry.14 You must leave a clear proof that you want to donate your organs.
To do become an organ donor, you must…
- Get an organ donor card (Organspendeausweis)
Order a card online for free. They send you the card, and give you a PDF copy. Sign the card, and put it in your wallet. Give a copy to someone you trust. This card is the only proof that you want to donate your organs. Make it easy to find.
- Write it in your will6
- Inform your family or your next of kin
If the doctors can’t find your organ donor card, they ask your next of kin. Your next of kin must guess if you wanted to give your organs.8 It can be a hard decision for them, so tell them what you want.
How organ donations work in Germany
Organ donations are opt-in.10 If you don’t give your consent, they can’t take your organs. 9,000 people need an organ transplant in Germany.3 There are not enough organ donors, because people forget to opt in.5
You must choose to become an organ donor while you are alive. If you die without making a decision, your next of kin must guess what you would have wanted.1 It can be a hard decision for them, so tell them what you want.
You can choose to donate all your organs, or only some organs.5 You can also refuse to be an organ donor. You must be at least 16 years old to consent, or at least 14 years old to refuse.4 You don’t need to be a German citizen or permanent resident.
Donate your organs
Organ donations only happen if…10
- You are dead
Two independent doctors must confirm your brain death.12 If there is a chance that you could live again, they will not take your organs.
- and you consented to give your organs7
If you make no decision, your next of kin must guess what you would have wanted. They can’t override your decision.15
- and you do not have cancer or HIV16
After your death, Eurotransplant finds someone who needs your organs. They explain your next of kin exactly what will happen, and which organs they will take.11 After the organ transplant, they return your body to your family for burial or cremation.2
Donate blood and bone marrow
While you are alive, you can donate blood and bone marrow. You must be at least 18 years old.6 You do not get paid.
Donate your body to science
If you donate your body to science, it will be used for medical research and education. You can be an organ donor and a body donor at the same time. Donating organs has priority. They only donate your body to science if they can’t use your organs.17
Apply at the anatomical institute of your local university of medicine. In Berlin, apply at Charité.
Donate your body to art
If you donate your body to art, it will be used in exhibitions about the human body. You can be an organ donor and a body donor at the same time.
Tell your friends and family to become organ donors. Most people want to donate their organs, but don’t carry an organ donor card. Germany has one of the lowest organ donation rates in Europe,18 but we can change that.