New citizens: ‘Signing up to the Donor Register is part of living in the Netherlands’

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A recent survey shows that almost all newly-naturalised citizens are in favour of organ donation.

Three out of four new citizens believe that registering their preference on organ and tissue donation in the Donor Register goes hand in hand with living in the Netherlands.

This was the result of a survey covering 500 immigrants from Poland, Germany, Britain, America, Canada, Suriname and the Antilles. Over half of those surveyed indicated that they had already registered themselves. Saving lives is the major impetus behind becoming an organ donor for almost all newly-naturalised Dutch citizens. What is most striking is that many new citizens are unaware that anyone immigrating to the Netherlands can immediately sign up to the Donor Register.

The Dutch Transplant Foundation commissioned the Veldkamp Research Agency to collaborate with TNS NIPO in conducting an investigative survey in October 2010. A total of 500 new Dutch citizens born in six different countries responded to questions on the subject of organ donation and registration.

Half of the immigrants were unaware that anyone can sign up to the Donor Register as soon as they have been registered by their Local Authority; this figure rose to 7 out of 10 among the Poles, which by their own admission is also the least well-represented group on the Donor Register. A large number of respondents were also unaware that it was possible to register their desire not to become a donor. Of those as yet unregistered, around 25 percent anticipate that they will register within the next year.

Saving lives most important reason for organ donation

A wide majority (85%) of the respondents approved of the practice of offering up one’s organs and tissues after death to those in need. Almost all respondents indicated that saving lives was the most important reason for becoming an organ donor. There were few respondents with negatives views on organ donation and registration. Religion played a minor role in the decision-making process. 14 percent of the respondents had no firm opinion on the matter.

 “We are pleased to see that new Dutch citizens have a positive view of donor registration,” said Jeantine Reiger of the Dutch Transplant Foundation. “This survey does highlight the importance of keeping people well-informed, however. We mainly organise this through the provision of directed information at various target group sites.”

Notable results among different population groups
  • The British, Americans and Canadians in the Netherlands were more likely than the other groups to hold the view that it is a waste of resources not to become an organ donor.
  • The Germans were more likely than the other groups to claim that they ‘had just not got around to it yet’ as the reason for why they had not yet registered.
  • There were more misunderstandings regarding the procedures surrounding organ donation among the Poles; 64% of the Polish group believed that their organs and tissues would only go to rich people.
  • The Antilleans were more likely to believe that organ and tissue donation should be a mutual business; you should only be able to receive a donation if you are yourself prepared to give.
  • The Surinamese and Antilleans were more mistrustful of the organ donation process.

Public information on organ and tissue donation, which is also presented in various foreign languages, can be obtained at

The information line, which is available every working day from 8:30am to 7pm, is 0900 - 82 12 166 (charged at the local rate).

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