What is organ donation?

Organ donation is giving an organ to someone else who needs a transplant. This donation will greatly enhance or save the life of the person who receives the transplanted organ. Organ donation is an amazingly generous act and saves thousands of lives in the UK every year.

How can I register to become an organ donor?

From 20th May 2020 all adults in England will be considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when they die, unless they have recorded a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups.

You can register as a donor on the NHS Organ Donor Register. Remember to tell your family and friends about your organ donation decision, as their support is needed for donation to go ahead.

Can I donate anything whilst I am alive?

Most donated organs and tissues are from people who have died.  However, it is also possible to donate a kidney or part of your liver as a living organ donor. Find out about becoming a living organ donor.

What can you donate?

Everyone has a choice as to whether or not they want to become an organ donor after they die, and if you choose to donate, you can choose to donate either some or all of your organs. One organ donor can save up to 9 lives.

By registering to become an organ donor you have the option to donate organs such as your heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas and small bowel. All of these forms of donation can greatly enhance or even save the life of someone in need.

Other transplants include:

What happens when I’m on the organ donation register?

When you register your organ donation decision: We will add your details and decision to the NHS Organ Donor Register. We will send you a letter confirming this within 10 days. You should then talk to your family, and make sure they know what you want.


How do I check if I have on the organ donor register?

To see if you have already registered with NHS Organ Donor Register or to check that your information and preferences in the register are up to date please contact 0300 123 23 23. For alternative contact methods, please fill in our contact form.

How will the funeral arrangement be affected?

Your funeral plans will not be affected by organ donation

Specialist nurses always speak to your family to see if there are considerations around your faith, beliefs or culture with respect to funeral plans.

The surgery carried out to remove a donor’s organs is carried out by highly skilled professionals who take the same care and attention and offer the same respect as they would in any operation to save a patient’s life. The surgical incisions are carefully dressed after the surgery and any end of life care wishes in relation to the washing and dressing of the body are respected.

Your body will always be returned to your family after donation

The donation operation is performed as soon as possible after death. After donation, the body is always returned to the family of the deceased in the same way as any death in a hospital where donation has not taken place. Families are given the opportunity to spend time with their loved ones after the operation if they wish.

An open-casket funeral is still possible

Organ and tissue donation doesn’t prevent you from having an open-casket funeral. The body is clothed for burial, so there are no visible signs of organ or tissue donation. The operation site is covered with a white surgical dressing like any other abdominal surgery dressing.

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