Should the law on anonymity of organ donation be changed? The perception of liver transplant recipients

Clin Transplant. 2009 Jun-Jul;23(3):375-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0012.2009.00955.x. Epub 2009 Feb 6.


Background: Belgian politicians submitted a proposal to rescind the law on anonymity of organ donation and transplantation and facilitate contact between donor families and recipients. It remains uncertain if recipients support this proposal.

Methodology: One liver transplant patient organization (n = 176/249) answered and provided comments on two questions: (i) how satisfied are you with the current principle of anonymity of the identity of the donor and (ii) the law about anonymity should be changed to allow the donor family and the patient to meet.

Results: Seventy percent were satisfied/very satisfied with the present law, because of anxiety for emotional involvement or feeling obliged to do something in return, feelings of guilt, and out of mutual respect. Nineteen percent was dissatisfied/very dissatisfied and want to obtain some information about the donor, and directly express their gratitude. Forty-two percent disagreed with a change, because of anxiety for manipulation, feelings of guilt, respect for the privacy, and worry about the donor having a different background. Thirty-six percent wanted to change the law out of curiosity, to express their gratitude, or to facilitate their coping process.

Discussion: Prudence to change the law is warranted, as only a minority of patients are in favor of rescinding the anonymity.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health*
  • Belgium
  • Confidentiality
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Humans
  • Liver Transplantation
  • Public Opinion*
  • Tissue Donors / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Tissue Donors / psychology
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Transplantation / psychology*