Understanding Organ Donation Law in Portugal

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Last updated on June 4, 2024 | Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

Portugal operates on an opt-out system for organ donation, which was implemented in 1993. This means that all citizens are presumed to be organ donors unless they explicitly express their wish not to donate. There is no age limit for organ donation. You do not need to opt-in.

This system has contributed to a higher rate of organ donation compared to countries with opt-in systems, where individuals must actively register as donors.

How Do I Opt Out?

If you do not wish to donate, you will need to register with the National Registry of Non-Donors (RENNDA).

nce the opposition to donation form is received by the Ministry of Health, they will process the request and issue an individual non-donor card to the registrant. This card serves as proof of the individual’s decision not to donate their organs and tissues after death.

The Ministry of Health is committed to handling these requests in a timely manner. They guarantee that the individual non-donor card will be sent to the registrant within a maximum period of 30 days from the date they receive the completed opposition to donation form.

Which Organs Can Be Donated?

In Portugal, a wide range of organs and tissues can be donated, providing hope and improved quality of life for recipients. Here is a comprehensive list of what can be donated:

  • The kidneys
  • The Liver
  • The Heart
  • The pancreas
  • The Lungs

It is also possible for the following to be donated:

  • Osteotendinous tissues (such as bone, tendon, and other osteotendinous structures)
  • Corneas
  • Heart Valves
  • Vascular segments
  • Skin

Can I Choose Which Organs Are Donated?

In Portugal, individuals have the right to specify which organs and tissues they wish to donate. To do this, they must register with the National Registry of Non-Donors (RENNDA).

By registering with RENNDA, individuals can stipulate which organs and tissues they do not want to donate, while presumed consent applies to all other organs and tissues not specified.

What can prevent donation?

For organs to be successfully donated, specific conditions need to be fulfilled:

  • The donor must pass away in an Intensive Care Unit.
  • Following an irreversible cessation of brain or heart-lung functions, the donor’s body must be kept artificially alive from the time of death until the organs are harvested.
  • The exact cause of death must be determined.

People who, at the time of their passing, are afflicted with an infectious disease, cancer, or any condition that affects the organs intended for transplant, are not eligible to be donors.

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James Cave is the founder of Portugalist and the author of the bestselling book, Moving to Portugal Made Simple. He has visited just about every part of Portugal, including Madeira and all nine islands of the Azores, and lived in several parts of Portugal including Lisbon, the Algarve, and Northern Portugal.

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