Femoral heads living donor

Given the shortage of tissue, ETB-BISLIFE has over the years established collaborative agreements with a selected number of hospitals in the Netherlands, the aim of which is to make femoral heads available from living donors whose bone tissue has been removed during a hip replacement operation. ETB-BISLIFE fully coordinates this donation procedure and supports the hospitals in training their staff, as well as providing equipment and logistical services.

Hip-replacement treatment

Patients undergoing hip-replacement treatment in a hospital are asked during the outpatient preparation for the operation whether they wish to donate their femoral head. If the patient agrees, he/she completes a questionnaire. The purpose of these questions is to guarantee the safety of the donated bone tissue. The treating orthopaedic surgeon also answers a number of questions, and then makes sure that the femoral head is carefully recovered during the operation, as well as that a culture sample is taken and that the femoral head is adequately packaged. A blood sample is also taken during the operation, on which a number of tests can be carried out for the presence of possible transmissible infectious diseases. All the recovered materials are then transported to ETB-BISLIFE.


As soon as the donated femoral head arrives at ETB-BISLIFE, a bacteriological culture and blood samples of the donor are sent to special laboratories to check for transmissible infectious diseases. According to the details submitted by the treating orthopaedic surgeon, the medical staff at ETB-BISLIFE also carry out a medical assessment for contra-indications for transplantation. If no contra-indications are identified in the tests and the medical screening, the femoral head will be released for transplantation.

Why donate your femoral head?

Has your orthopaedic surgeon asked you whether you wish to donate your femoral head to ETB-BISLIFE?

Then please read the information about femoral head donation below.


The brochure (in Dutch) containing full details about femoral head donation can be downloaded.

The download is in the form of a PDF file, readable using Acrobat Reader.

What will happen to your femoral head?

Immediately after the orthopaedic surgeon has removed your femoral head, a member of the OR staff will package it in a double sterile bone container in order to maintain the quality of the bone. A label with a unique identification number will be attached to the container. The femoral heads are then stored in freezers, where they can be retained for up to five years. If the bone you donated is used for another patient in the future, your bone tissue can only be identified by that unique number. Your name will not be disclosed to the doctor treating the recipient.

We maintain records linking your details to that unique number. If it becomes necessary at some point, ETB-BISLIFE alone can relate a bone product used for a patient to the donor of that bone tissue.

It is not possible to store a femoral head donated by a patient for possible use for that same patient at a later stage (so-called ‘autologous’ use).

Donated femoral heads are used in orthopaedic surgery, for procedures such as:

  • Filling of bone defects around a prosthesis
  • Filling of a cavity (cyst) in a patient’s bone

The transplanted bone will act as a temporary filler, and contains factors that help the body produce new bone in that area. Over time, the transplanted bone will be replaced entirely with the body’s own bone tissue.

When treating patients, the orthopaedic surgeon will not make any distinction between patients who are and patients who are not donating their bone.