What is donor health care?

Donor health care professionals are responsible for the selection and evaluation of donors, obtaining the Substances of Human Origin (SoHO, blood tissues, cells and organs) and, if applicable, the aftercare and follow up of the donor. They have specialized knowledge to consider product compatibility for recipients and to protect the quality and the safety of the collected material. The DoHeCa programme offers a unique program to take this specialized knowledge to a next level.

Two domains: the donor and the donation
Donor health care encompasses two domains: the donor and the donation. On the one hand, donor health care concerns protecting the donor and on the other hand protecting the safety and efficacy of the SoHO, and thus indirectly the recipient of the product, taking societal and ethical frameworks into account.

Donor health care professionals evaluate the safety, quality and other medically and psychosocially relevant characteristics of donors who donate SoHO, based on the medical specifications of the patient who needs to undergo treatment. The donor has a special position in health care: in general, the donor is a healthy volunteer or relative of the recipient. In contrast to patient care, it is not in the donor’s personal interest to expose himself to medical history taking, physical examination, tests and an intervention to donate. Since most donors are healthy individuals, prevention is pivotal. Therefore, the donor health care domain is affiliated more closely to public health rather than to curative medicine.

Donor health care does not only concern donor care. It also encompasses the donation of SoHO. SoHO are an essential part of health care and is inextricably related to transfusion and transplantation. Besides curative care, SoHO play a role in prevention, e.g. hepatitis or Rhesus immunization and thereby also contribute to public care. The role of donor health care is to closely whatch safe and effective retrieval of bodily materials, as a part of total health care.

Autologous donations deserve special attention in the field of donor health care. Notably, stem cells, tissues such as tendons, skin, and red cells can be subject of autologous donations. In such cases, donor and recipient are the same person, subsequently interconnecting the fields of donor and patient care and thereby public and curative care, and requiring special attention with regard to guidance, information and quality issues.