We give life – we automatically become organ donors from 1 January 2019

Icelanders automatically become organ donors according to legislation on presumed consent for organ donation that takes effect on 1 January 2019. The present legislation, on the other hand, assumes that people consent beforehand to have their organs used for transplantation. Many people, therefore, carry a credit-card sized donor card in their purse or wallet that states their wish to donate organs after death.

Before 2019, people thus had to make an informed decision on organ donation, while as of 2019 people are required to register their wish not to donate their organs. Those who, for some reason, wish to opt out of being organ donors can do so by registering their position on www.heilsuvera.is (My pages). A general practioner will assist those who do not use computers or the internet.

Annually, 25–30 patients are in need of organ transplants in Iceland and their number has been rising in recent years. Organs are usually referred to as „donated“ when the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas or intestines are removed from the body of a deceased person and transplanted into patients whose vital organs are severely damaged and poorly functioning. People of all ages can become so seriously ill from illnesses of the heart, liver, lungs or kidneys that their condition calls for an organ donation, if possible.

The donor organs are shipped from Iceland to Gothenburg, Sweden, where the transplantation surgery is performed at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital. Kidneys also come from living donors, most often from close relatives of the patients. Living donation is relatively common in Iceland.

Living organ donors can apply for temporary financial assistance from the Social Insurance Administration (Tryggingastofnun ríkisins) for the period when they can neither carry out work nor studies because of an organ donation.

Icelandic patients and healthcare professionals advocate for increased organ donation in Iceland, in light of the positive experience gained from organ transplantations. There are many examples of a single organ donor saving the lives of several patients.

Organ transplantation not only saves lifes but also increases the quality of life. Many people lead a normal life with a transplanted organ, go to work and exercise. Furthermore, numerous women with an organ transplant have given birth to healthy children.

More info (Icelandic).

General Inquiries: Email lif@landlaeknir.is