Procedure after death

After death, the Heart Tissue Bank must be called as soon as possible (24/7 availability). It is possible for the relatives to say goodbye before the heart donor is taken to the Amsterdam UMC. If relatives still have difficulty with the heart obduction then it will not be performed.

A specialized doctor (pathologist) and assistants perform the obduction in Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc. During the obduction, the chest is opened, and the heart is taken out. The chest is then closed again. The stitches after a heart obduction are only visible when the chest is viewed. After the obduction the deceased person is brought back to the relatives as soon as possible. All personal belongings and clothing of the deceased that have been given with our carrier will be handed over to the funeral director. The funeral can take place as planned and the deceased can be laid in state. If the Heart Tissue Bank decides not to perform a heart obduction, it will always be explained why this is not possible.

The heart tissue is frozen at -196°C during the obduction and then stored at -80°C, or chemically treated to make it suitable for research. We assign a unique code to each piece of heart tissue, so that researchers cannot trace the donor’s identity. In this way, the Heart Tissue Bank guarantees the privacy of the donor and the relatives.