Organ donation is the gift of an organ to help someone who needs a transplant. Thousands of lives in the UK are saved or transformed each year by organ transplants.
Organs that can be donated by people who have died include heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas, liver and small bowel.
Tissue such as skin, bone and heart valves can also be used to save and improve people’s lives, and corneas can help to restore people’s sight.
If you want to become a donor after you die you could save and improve the lives of up to nine people through organ donation and even more if you also donate tissue.
Organ donation remains your choice.
Every day in the UK, someone dies waiting for an organ transplant, because there just aren’t enough organ donors.
There are currently more than 7000 people waiting for an organ transplant in the UK, and while more people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are receiving transplants than ever before, Black and Asian patients still wait longer than White patients for a transplant.
People can receive a transplant from someone of any ethnicity, however the most suitable match is likely to come from a donor of the same ethnicity.
You can choose to donate some or all of your organs and tissue, or you can choose not to donate. You can amend or withdraw a registration at any time. If there is no recorded decision for you, in England, Wales and Scotland this means your consent may be deemed, due to the organ donation laws in those countries.
Families will always be involved before organ donation goes ahead so it’s important that you talk with them about organ donation and whether you’d want to be a donor. Your family will be expected to support your decision.
If you don’t have family, or your relationship is difficult, you can also nominate a representative. This might be a friend, GP, faith leader or someone else of your choice.
The best way to make your decision known is to record it on the NHS Organ Donor Register and tell your loved ones. You can do that via our website, or via the NHS app in England, or by calling 0300 123 23 23. There are tips on the organ donation website which could help start the conversation with your family.