Organ and Tissue Donation

Give the gift of life

Transplants are one of the most miraculous achievements of modern medicine. But they depend entirely on the generosity of donors and their families who are willing to make this life-saving gift to others.

One donor can save the life of several people and greatly enhance the life of many more from tissue donation. Corneal transplantation helps to restore the sight of more than 2500 blind and partially sighted people every year in the United Kingdom.

Right now there are more than 10,000 people in the UK that need a transplant and every year around 1,000 people will die waiting.

The generosity of donors and their families enables over 4000 people in the UK every year to take on a new lease of life.

Doctors and nurses are committed to doing everything possible to save life and organ donation only takes place after a patient has died.

What is organ/tissue donation?

Donation is giving an organ or tissue to help someone who needs a transplant. Transplants can save or greatly enhance the lives of other people. But this relies on donors and their families agreeing to donate their organ or tissue.

The number of people waiting on a life saving transplant is expected to rise due to our aging population, an increase in obesity, an increase in kidney failure, and scientific advances which mean that more people are now able to benefit from a transplant.

In addition, fewer than 5,000 people each year die in circumstances where they can become a donor. Because organs have to be transplanted very soon after death they can only be donated by someone who has died in hospital. Usually these patients are on a ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit or the Emergency Department, and are declared brain dead or die despite medical treatment – generally as a result of a brain haemorrhage, major accident like a car crash, or a stroke.

Another reason for the major shortage of organs is that many people have not recorded their decision to be a donor after they die by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register or discussed their decision with their families.

Organs that can be donated after death include the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas and small bowel. Tissue such as corneas and heart valves can also be used to help others.

While only a few people die in circumstances which would enable their organs to be donated, many people can donate tissue after their death. The best time to donate tissues for example; corneas and heart valves is within 24 hours after someone has died.


We will only use organs and tissue from a donor with their consent or with their family’s consent after they die. You can give your consent by: 
    •     Joining the NHS Organ Donor Register, or 
    •     Telling a relative or close friend about your decision to donate

Everyone can join the NHS Organ Donor Register regardless of age, as long as they are: 
    •     Legally capable of making the decision, and 
    •     Live in the UK.

How do I join the Register?

There are several ways: 
    •     You can fill in a form and return it 
    •     Or register online at 
    •     Or phone 0300 123 23 23

And don’t forget to discuss your decision with your family and friends.

The facts

Many relatives say that they have found comfort in knowing that the loss of their loved one has given someone else the chance to live.

You are more likely to need a transplant than die in circumstances where you can become a donor.
The removal of organs and tissues is carried out with the same care and respect as any other operation.

To decide whether or not you wish to give life to someone else after you have died is something very personal and it is important that everyone makes their own decision.

Even if you carry a donor card you should also join the NHS Organ Donor Register and discuss your decision with those closest to you so they know your wishes.

Putting your name on the organ donation register makes everyone aware of your wishes and makes it easier for them to agree to your transplant donation. It is important to talk to your family, friends and next of kin to make sure they know what you want.

If you have any questions or require clarification please contact the Specialist Nurses Organ Donation listed below.

Mary McAfee, Specialist Nurse Organ Donation

Leona Laverty, Specialist Nurse Organ Donation
As the need for organs for transplantation increases the NHSCT organ donation committee continues to lead on donation policy and practice to ensure donation is considered in all appropriate situations.Dr Paul Johnston is the Trust Clinical Lead for Organ Donation and Mr Billy Graham is the Organ Donation Committee Chairperson.

Useful websites

NHSBT - Organ Donation - Join the register
NHSBT - NHS Blood and Transplant ... Add your name to the NHS Organ Donor Register and one day you may be able to save lives.

NHSBT - Organ Donation - Home
The Organ Donation and Transplantation Directorate of NHS Blood and Transplant supports organ transplantation, providing donor organ matching and ...

NHSBT - Organ Donation - Publications
Each publication listed below can be accessed in one or more formats. The main link is normally to the web page. If a Word (.doc) or PDF version of a document ...
‎Regular papers and publications - ‎Fact sheets - ‎Posters and leaflets - ‎Welsh leaflets

NHSBT - Organ Donation and Transplantation
Information source for healthcare professionals and other interested parties.

Organ donation
Watch videos of people sharing their experiences of Organ donation

NICE guidelines
Organ donation for transplantation: Improving donor identification and consent rates for deceased organ donation

Page last updated:29 June 2016