Living donation

SAMS » Ethics » Topics A–Z » Transplantation » Living donation

Recent developments in the area of living donation necessitate the revision of the currently applicable medical-ethical guidelines «Living donation of solid organs». The Central Ethics Committee (CEC) of the SAMS has appointed a subcommittee to revise the guidelines dating from 2008.

In living donation, donors make an organ available for transplantation while they are still alive, i.e. an operation is performed on a healthy individual for the benefit of a third party (usually a relative). This means that living donation gives rise to particular ethical challenges. The SAMS medical‑ethical guidelines «Living donation of solid organs» provide guidance for physicians, nurses and other health professionals involved in the medical and psychosocial assessment of donors and in their aftercare.


In view of the revision of the Federal Act on the Transplantation of Organs, Tissues and Cells (Transplantion Act) and other recent developments, the guidelines now need to be revised. One such development is crossover donation, which occurs in cases where direct donation (e.g. between spouses) is not possible on account of incompatibility. In crossover donation, a kidney goes, not to the donor’s spouse, but to a recipient in another couple. In exchange, the second couple donates a kidney to a recipient in the first couple.


Also to be reviewed and, if appropriate, amended are the recommendations on the evaluation of foreign donors and the aftercare of recipients who have (illegally) purchased an organ abroad. Here, the resolutions recently adopted by the Council of Europe are to be taken into account. The new subcommittee will start work in December 2019.



Members of the subcommittee

Professor Jürg Steiger, Basel, Transplantation Medicine (Chair)

Christine Bally, Bern, Nursing

PD Dr Vanessa Banz, Bern, Visceral and Transplantation Surgery

Dr Isabelle Binet, St. Gallen, Nephrology

Dr Anne Dalle Ave, Lausanne, Ethics

lic. phil. Irene Geiger, Basel, Psychology

Dr Thomas Gruberski, SAMS, Bern (from September 2020)

lic. iur. Ursula Hubschmid, Law/Recipient Advocacy

Dr Gundula Ludwig, Lausanne, Psychology/Psychotherapy

Professor Thomas Müller, Zürich, Nephrology

Professor Beat Müllhaupt, Zürich, Hepatology

Christa Nolte, Basel, Living Donor Registry

lic. iur. Michelle Salathé, MAE, SAMS, Bern (until September 2020)

Professor Yvan Vial, Lausanne, Medicine/Donor Advocacy

Professor Jean Villard, Genève, Immunology/Transplantation



lic. theol., dipl. biol. Sibylle Ackermann Birbaum
Head Department Ethics a.i.