New initiative in Germany uses tattoo as organ donor ID

New initiative in Germany uses tattoo as organ donor ID

Junge Helden, an organisation promoting organ donation registration in Germany, has announced a new initiative whereby people can get a tattoo to register their willingness to donate their organs after they die.

Junge Helden promotes new tattoo for organ donors

According to Junge Helden, while the majority of Germans say they would be willing to donate their organs after they kick the bucket, only 44 percent have an organ donor card.

The German healthcare system maintains an opt-in system when it comes to organ donation registration, meaning you have to have signed your Organspendeausweis (organ donor ID) or similar document and preferably carry it with your standard ID, in order to be officially recognised as an organ donor. If, during your lifetime, you do not provide written proof of whether you would like to donate some or all of your organs, the decision is left to your relatives after your death.

But in a country where one in four people have a tattoo, the organisation noticed an opportunity and decided to launch the Opt.Ink project. Now, donors can get a specific geometric pattern tattooed so that doctors or their relatives can recognise it in an emergency and tell whether they were willing to donate their organs. Around 100.000 people in Germany are currently waiting for an organ transplant and the organisation hopes that Opt.Ink will draw attention to the deficit of organ donors in the federal republic.

200 German tattoo parlours take part in organ donation project

The tattoo design is made up of one circle and two semi-circles. “A semi-circle, receives another semi-circle to become a whole, symbolising the gift of life that is organ donation,” the organisation explains on its website. Together the shapes also spell out the acronym “OD” or “OS” for “Organ Spender*in” (organ donor).

The simple design, which is quick and inexpensive for artists to tattoo, can be downloaded from the Junge Helden website as a PDF for people to take to their appointment. So far, 200 tattoo studios in Germany have said they are taking part in the project, with some even offering the tattoo for free.

Thumb image credit: Orlok /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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