Legal regulations in Switzerland

In Switzerland, the Federal Act on the Transplantation of Organs, Tissues and Cells (Bundesgesetz über die Transplantation von Organen, Geweben und Zellen (Transplantationsgesetz)) came into force on 1 July 2007. The Act put an end to the legal fragmentation that had until then prevailed in the area of transplantation medicine, by providing a uniform and comprehensive legal framework. Like Germany, Switzerland applies the extended consent solution, i.e. legal removal of organs, cells or tissue requires consent of the donor prior to their death. In cases where the person has not made a declaration regarding organ donation, the next of kin shall be asked to give consent (Art. 8). Another prerequisite is the determination of brain death (Art. 8). It is prohibited to grant or to derive financial profit or any other advantage from the donation of human organs, tissue or cells (Art. 6), to trade in human organs, tissue or cells, or to remove or to transplant human organs, tissue or cells which have been obtained in exchange for payment or by granting advantages (Art. 7). The main differences between German and Swiss transplantation legislation concern living donation: the Swiss Transplantation Act does not stipulate that the donor and the recipient must be relatives or have a very close emotional relationship. Hence, cross-over living donation, for instance, is permissible in Switzerland (Art. 6). Transplantation of embryonic or foetal cells is only permitted with an authorisation of the Federal Office of Public Health (Bundesamtes für Gesundheit – BAG). Certain procedures, e.g. donation to a designated person or the use of embryonic or foetal tissue or cells from women who are incapable of exercising sound judgment, are prohibited. The performance of xenotransplantations must be authorised by the BAG.

Federal Act on the Transplantation of Organs, Tissues and Cells Online Version

In a referendum on 15 May 2022, Switzerland voted in favour of a dissent solution and thus for an amendment to the Transplantation Act. Implementing it requires a registry, which is why the amendment is not expected to come into force until 2024.

Press Release of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) Online Version (German)

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