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We will only use organs from a donor with their consent or with their family’s consent after they die. 

If you want to make a real difference by being an organ or tissue donor after your death, there are two important steps you need to take:

  • Join the NHS Organ Donor Register
  • Tell your family and friends that you have joined the register and want to be a donor so they can support your decision

If you die in circumstances in which you can donate, medical staff will consult the NHS Organ Donor Register to see if you had recorded a decision about organ donation and discuss this with your family. They will also be able to see whether you stated that you would like NHS staff to discuss your faith or beliefs with your family before organ donation goes ahead.

Making your decision clear

It is important to discuss your decision with your family so that if the time ever comes, your relatives are in no doubt that their loved one wanted to be an organ donor.

If your relatives object

If your family, or those closest to you, object to donation even when you have given your explicit permission (either by telling relatives, friends or clinical staff, by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register or by carrying a donor card) healthcare professionals will discuss the matter sensitively with them.

They will be encouraged to accept your decision and it will be made clear that they do not have the legal right to veto or overrule your decision. There may, nevertheless, be cases where it would be inappropriate for donation to go ahead if donation would cause distress to your family.

If you have no family or relatives

NHS professionals will speak to your GP about your medical and social history. But you should also tell a close friend or colleague about your decision as they may be able to provide information to help us.

Qualifying relationship (or nearest relative in Scotland)

Where the decision of a person who has died is not known, the Human Tissue Acts rank people who had a relationship with them. This enables healthcare professionals seeking permission for donation to know who they should approach and in what order. This ranges from a spouse or partner (including civil or same sex partner); parent or child; brother or sister; other relatives, to a friend of long standing.

Including organ donation in your will

By the time your will is read it's likely to be far too late for you to become a donor. Therefore, it is important to let your family and friends know now that you want to be an organ donor.


You can check if you are registered or update your preferences by:

  • Calling 0300 123 23 23, or
  • Writing to us at FREEPOST RRZKSHUX-SBCK, NHSBT, Fox Den Road, Stoke Gifford, Bristol BS34 8RR. (Please note, you will need to provide your full name, date of birth and address to find out this information, please also provide a contact number).

You can also update your details or change your preferences online.

Using your organs for research

We can only use your organs and tissue for research after you die, if:

  • we get permission from you or your family
  • they are not suitable for transplant

Leaving your body for medical research after organ donation

We will not accept your body for medical research:

  • if you have donated your organs, or
  • after a post-mortem

But, if you donated only your corneas, you can leave your body for research

To find out more information about whole body donation for research purposes or for anatomical examination please contact the following organisations;

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