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Who can become an organ donor?

Everyone can become an organ donor - there is no age limit. Take a look at the eligibility criteria and register to donate today!

Are there any age restrictions to becoming an organ donor?

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.

Specialist healthcare professionals decide in each individual case whether a person's organs and tissue are suitable for donation.

There are some age restrictions that apply to different tissue. However, these can be subject to change and so it is advisable to discuss with a specialist nurse via the National Referral Centre on 0800 432 0559.

Can children join the Organ Donor Register?

Children who cannot register themselves can be registered by the person with parental responsibility.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the age of consent is 18 years, however, the decision from a person under 18 years of age who is deemed competent to make that decision should be treated the same as if they were an adult.

Is race or skin colour important in organ donation?

Blood and tissue types need to match for a successful transplant and organs from people from the same ethnic background are more likely to be a close match. Find out more about organ donation and ethnicity

What screening or testing is carried out?

Blood is taken from all potential donors and tested to rule out transmissible diseases and viruses such as HIV and hepatitis. The family of the potential donor is made aware that this procedure is required.

Can I become an organ donor if I have existing medical conditions?

Having an illness or medical condition doesn't necessarily prevent a person from becoming an organ or tissue donor. The decision about whether some or all organs or tissue are suitable for transplant is made by a medical specialist at the time of donation, taking into account your medical, travel and social history. 

There are very few conditions where organ donation is ruled out completely. 

A person cannot become an organ donor if they have or are suspected of having:

* Someone with current active cancer cannot become an organ donor. However, it may be possible for people with certain types of cancers to donate after three years of treatment. It may also be possible to donate eyes and some tissue in these circumstances. 

** In rare cases, the organs of donors with HIV or hepatitis C have been used to help others with the same conditions. 

Can I become an organ donor if I am unable to donate blood?

If you don’t or can’t give blood you can still be a potential organ donor.

There may be specific reasons why it has not been possible to donate blood such as having had a blood transfusion (or blood products) since 1 January 1980. Or there may be reasons why you could not give blood because of your health at the time. Sometimes a simple thing like a cold or medication that you are taking can prevent you from donating blood.

The decision about whether some or all organs or tissue are suitable for transplant is always made by a medical specialist at the time of donation, taking into account your medical history.

Further information

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