Transplantation of human cells, tissues and organs

Global Knowledge Base on Transplantation  (GKT)

Transplantation of human cells, tissues or organs saves many
lives and restores essential functions where no alternatives
of comparable effectiveness exist

In 50 years, transplantation has become a successful worldwide practice. However, there are large differences between countries in access to suitable transplantation and in the level of safety, quality, efficacy of donation and transplantation of human cells, tissues and organs. The ethical aspects of transplantation are at the forefront. In particular, the unmet patients’ needs and the shortage of transplants lead to the temptation of trafficking in human body components for transplantation.

WHO Guiding Principles on Human Cell, Tissue and Organ Transplantation

In 1987 the fortieth World Health Assembly, concerned at the trade for profit in human organs, initiated the preparation of the first WHO Guiding Principles on Transplantation, endorsed by the Assembly in 1991 in resolution WHA44.25. These Guiding Principles have greatly influenced professional codes and practices as well as legislation around the world during almost two decades. After a consultation process that took several years, the Sixty-third World Health Assembly adopted resolution WHA63.22 on 21 May 2010, endorsing the updated WHO Guiding Principles and identifying areas of progress to optimize donation and transplantation practices.

WHA63.22 - Human organ and tissue transplantation

WHO Guiding Principles

The Declaration of Istanbul

Professionals of donation and transplantation from all regions, through many of their organizations and institutions, are endorsing the Declaration of Istanbul on organ trafficking and transplant tourism developed under the leadership of the Transplantation Society and the International Society of Nephrology in May 2008.


Contact information

Transplantation of human cells, tissues and organs
Service Delivery and Safety
Health Systems and Innovation
World Health Organization
Avenue Appia 20
11211 Geneva 27