Partners in the Tissue Donation Chain: donor to patient

Tissue Donation

The Dutch Organ Donation Act (Wet op de orgaandonatie) stipulates how donation of human organs including tissues is carried out. Organizations that take care of the duties described in this act are appointed by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS). The Health and Youth Care Inspectorate (IGJ) is the gate keeper for the Dutch government.

Donor Register

When a patient dies the treating physician consults the national donor registry. The Dutch transplant foundation (NTS) processes this consultation, which can be performed 24/7. If the deceased is a registered donor or if his/her next of kin gives permission, NTS will perform an initial medical screening of the potential donor to minimize the risk of disease transmission from donor to recipient. If the donor is accepted, a national tissue procurement team (WUON) is called to action. They collect the tissue(s), some blood and currently also a nasal swab to check for the presence of the SARS-CoV-19 virus.

Microbiological and Medical Screening

In the eye bank the tissues are inspected microscopically, decontaminated, and after preparation they are stored in culture medium at 31⁰C. During preparation it is determined for which type of transplantation the specific tissue is suitable. Several microbiological samples are taken before and during storage to check the result of the decontamination.

During the storage phase in the eye bank, the medical history of the donor is screened thoroughly (by NTS) for contra-indications. In addition, the donor blood and nasal swabs will be tested by the (licensed for these purposes) national blood bank Sanquin for the presence of communicable diseases.

When both the donor and the tissue have been released for transplantation, the eye bank combines the features of the tissues available in the eye bank at that moment and the patients scheduled for a donor cornea transplant to find the best matches possible and informs the clinics/surgeons that tissue is available.