In the Netherlands everybody will become a donor in due time, but not in the case of stem cells. That is why over 190.000 youngsters from 18 years will receive a letter this month to inform them about donating stem cells. It is a call to action and become a stem cells donor.

At the time about 150.000 Dutch - 1 out of 64 between 18 and 56 years - are stem cells donor. Stem cells create new red blood cells. If someone gets a blood disease, such as for example leukemia, then that goes wrong. Those people do need a stem cells transplantation, otherwise there is a big chance that they won't survive. There is much need of stem cells donors: only 4 percent of the people in need do find a matching donor in the Netherlands. The other ones have to look abroad. So it is difficult to find a matching donor: the odds are less than 1 out of 50.000.

Everybody is an organdonor, unless...

Becoming a donor yes or no? People who don't respond to this question, will be registered as a donor anyway. For a long time it appeared that this would not going to happen, but a majority of the Lower House of Parliament has in September of 2016 agreed with active donor registration. That proposal is under consideration by the Senate. A majority here should also support this proposal before it will become the law. At the moment that is not the case.

If the Senate agrees it zould mean that from that moment on all Dutch from 18 years and older will get a letter with the question if he or she wants to be an organ donor. If anyone does not respond after two letters, he or she will be registered as a organ donor. In the register those names will be marked with no objection, in fact they will be an organ donor. The will be notified by mail and they can always change it.

People who are responding to the request can answer Yes of No, or they can define per organ or tissue whether they want to donate or not. People also can fill the remark that they want someone else to make the choice after their death.

Is 'no objection' than the same as 'yes'? No it isn't. In the register there is a difference. After the death of someone with no objection the family has to accept in principle that organs and tissue will be removed. It could be possible that the family is getting a bigger role than is written in the proposed law. In other words: if the family is against donating organs and tissue a lot of doctors probably won't remove them.

Since 1998 in the Netherlands the law on organ donation has been in effect. This law states that every sane person kan agree to donating organs and tissue after dying. Also people can make the statement that someone else can make that decision. A big difference between the actual law and the proposed law is this: if there is nothing written in the register the family is then in charge of the decision. That is the current law.

Supporters hope that the new law will deliver more donor organs. Now about 40 percent of the Dutch are registered. This doesn't mean that they all want to be a donor. Some of them have indicated that they do not want to donate organs or tissue or they want someone else to decide for them.


For many people with a kidney problem, a transplant is the best treatment. Then you get a donor kidney that functions as your own kidney. The kidney may come from a living or deceased donor. The new law "active donor registration" does not apply in the case of a living donor. No one can force you to donate a kidney. Watch this video to see what the kidneys in your body do: