Organ Donation

Recovering organs to save lives 

The Donor Care Association (DCA) of the University Hospital of Zurich is responsible for coordinating the whole process of the organ donation. Their work starts once someone is identified as a potential organ donor (someone who is braindead). This encompasses coordinating all the relevant tests and processes that lead up to recovery of the organs and their transport to the recipient as well as supporting the donor’s relatives with all possible aid in that difficult period of time. The DCA is not responsible for the allocation of the organs (which is done by SwissTransplant) nor the transplantation process which is done by other institutions/entities.

The pictures stages in intensive care, where the donor is being nursed and relatives have the possibility to take leave of their loved on and to mourn their loss, the transport to the operating room as well as preparations of the room, the recovery of multiple organs and the final preparation of the body for pathology. 

Watch and wedding band of a donor

Taking blodsamples for determining organ quality

Calls and administrative tasks are a large part of the coordination process


Sterilized ice is being crushed to cool the body and the removed organs

Surgical instruments are laid out with great precision


During passing away of the donor while a DCD (donation after circulatory determination of death) relatives have the opportunity to stay with the donor. Utmost silence is held during this period of time. Electric candle and dimmed lights in the operation theatre help creating a more dignified atmosphere.


Part of diagnosing brain death is testing wether there are any reflexes left. A brain dead person will not show any reflexes. 


Each usable organ is removed by according specialists (e.g. the heart by heart surgeon etc.)

Surgeons are assisted by operation room nurses during the recovery of the organs

Recovered organs are being prepared with a special solution for conservation and ice for the transport.


The dead body is being brought to the viewing area if the relatives wish to see it once more and mourn their great loss.


The removed organs need to be transported immediately to the next hospital where they are implanted and will save someones live