What is tissue donation?

The majority of those who join the NHS Organ Donor Register choose to donate all their organs. However, you can also choose to donate your tissues.

Tissue donation can improve the lives of many people through tissue grafts. Most people who are unable to donate their organs when they die can usually be tissue donors.

Which tissues can I donate?

Cornea

Used to help restore sight to people with cornea problems caused by eye disease, injury, or birth defects. Disease or injury can make the cornea cloudy or distorted, causing vision loss.

Why would someone need a cornea?

Your cornea can become damaged for reasons such as:

  • corneal ulcer
  • Keratoconus - where the cornea grows abnormally in young people
  • age or inherited conditions may lead to cloudiness of the cornea in older people
  • scarring caused by herpes, the cold sore virus
  • injuries to the corneas caused by trauma or chemical splashes.

Heart valves

Heart valves can be transplanted to save the lives of children born with heart defects and adults with damaged heart valves.

Skin

Donated skin can be used as a natural dressing to help treat people with serious burns by stopping infections and to reduce scarring and reduce pain.

Bone

Donated bone can be used for people receiving artificial joint replacements. It can also replace bone that has been removed due to illness or injury and help reduce pain and improve mobility.

Tendons

Tendons attach bones and muscles to each other and donated tendons can be used to help rebuild damaged joints.

Some people may be able to donate other tissues for special operations or for research.

Consent

We will only use tissue 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 tissue 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.

Further information

Register to donate

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