What is organ donation?

Organ donation is giving an organ 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.

Types of donation

There are three different ways to donate. These are:

  • Brain stem death - This is where a person no longer has activity in their brain stem due to a severe brain injury. They have permanently lost the potential for consciousness and the capacity to breathe. This may happen even when a ventilator is keeping the person's heart beating and oxygen is circulated through their blood.  
  • Circulatory death -  Is the irreversible loss of function of the heart and lungs after a cardiac arrest from which the patient cannot or should not be resuscitated. It can also be the planned withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from a patient within the Intensive Care Unit or the Emergency Department. 
  • living donation - Whilst you are still alive you can choose to donate a kidney, a small section of your liver, discarded bone from a hip or knee replacement and also your amniotic membrane (placenta). 

Consent

We will only use organs from a donor with their consent or with their family’s consent after they die. You can give your consent by:

Learn more about what your consent to organ donation means.

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.

Medical conditions

Having a medical condition does not always prevent you from becoming an organ donor. At death, a qualified doctor responsible for your care will decide whether some or all organs are suitable for transplant.

But, there are a few conditions that will exclude you from donating organs.

You cannot become an organ donor if you have:

Further information





Register to donate

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