Organ donation

Anyone who has not explicitly stated they are opposed to organ donation during their life is considered an organ donor

Organ transplantation is a method of treating patients with irreversible organ function failure.

Organs (kidneys, liver, heart, lungs, pancreas, small intestine), tissues (skin, bone parts, heart valves, blood vessels, corneas, etc.) and cells (hematopoietic stem cells, pancreatic islet cells, etc.) can be transplanted.

Consent from the family

In Croatia, anyone who has not explicitly stated they are opposed to organ donation during their life is considered a potential organ donor. Even though the law does not prescribe that consent should be obtained from the deceased persons’ family for organ explanation, in practice, the family’s wishes are respected. For this reason, it is important to let your family know how you feel about the donation of your organs after you die.

Persons who oppose the donation of body parts after their death need to sign a statement on refusal of organ donation at the office of their primary-care physician. Refusal statements are entered in the register of non-donors at the Ministry of Health.

Organ donor card

The organ donor card is of utmost importance as it clearly states how a person feels about organ donation. If a deceased person owns a donor card, the family generally respects the wishes of the deceased person and does not object to explanation.

You can request an organ donor card from your primary-care physician or the Ministry of Health.

Determining death

Parts of a deceased person's body can be donated to another person if it was safely determined, according to the medical criteria and in the manner prescribed, that the person died. Death occurs when complete and irreversible cessation of the brain blood flow (brain death) is determined.

Brain death is determined in two consecutive clinical examinations by a three-member commission and is confirmed by one of the legally prescribed instrumental examinations. Physicians who determine the brain death are not involved in organ transplantation.

Families donating the organs of their family members who die in hospitals outside their place of permanent residence are entitled to coverage of the costs of transportation from the hospital to the burial place.

Living-donor transplants

Organs or tissues of living donors may be taken solely for the treatment of the recipient if there is no appropriate organ or tissue of a deceased person and there is no other approximately equal method of treatment.

The ethics committee of the health care institution in which the transplant will be carried out will decide on taking an organ of the living donor for the purpose of transplantation to the recipient.

Recipient’s consent

Transplantation may only be done if the recipient has given their written consent. For a recipient without legal capacity, without capacity to make decisions or a recipient who is a minor, the consent is provided by their legal representative or guardian.

Information confidentiality

Information on donors and recipients of human body parts is considered a professional secret. The recipient’s physician has to be allowed to access the donor’s medical information for a medically justified reason.

Using bodies for medical training

In exceptional cases, before the burial or cremation of a deceased person who does not have a family and did not explicitly oppose this while they were alive, if no one requested burial or cremation within 48 hours, their body may be used for the purpose of medical training with the approval of the ethical committee of the Croatian Medical Chamber.

With the approval of the ethical committee of the Croatian Medical Chamber, a body of a deceased person who did not live with their family members may also be used for the purpose of medical training if the deceased person did not explicitly oppose this in writing and if their marital spouse, parents, adult child or guardian do not oppose this in writing.

In the above two cases, the Croatian Medical Chamber has to inform the competent state administration body or healthcare institution supervising post-mortem examinations and work of coroners.