Who can become an organ donor?
Organ donation and eligibility
Anyone can register a decision to become an organ donor after death, there is no age limit.
To donate organs after death, a person needs to die in hospital in specific circumstances.
To add your name to the NHS Organ Donor Register you'll need to live in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man.
Specialist healthcare professionals decide in each individual case whether a person's organs and tissue are suitable for donation.
For more information about eligibility for organ donation after death, please select a category below.
Is there an age limit for becoming an organ donor?
There is no age limit for becoming an organ donor.
The decision about whether some or all organs or tissue are suitable for transplant is always made by medical specialists at the time of donation, taking into account your medical, travel and social history.
Can children join the NHS Organ Donor Register?
Parents and guardians can register their children, and children can register themselves.
Children who are under 12 in Scotland and under 18 in the rest of the UK at the time of registration will require their parent or guardian’s agreement for donation to take place.
Can you become an organ donor if you have a medical condition?
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 medical specialists 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:
*In rare cases, the organs of donors with HIV have been used to help others with the same conditions. If you live with HIV and wish to be a donor, please register to donate, the medical team will establish whether or not your organs are suitable for donation.
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.
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 corneas and some tissue in these circumstances.
It is still possible to become an organ donor if you smoke. Specialist healthcare professionals decide in each individual case whether a person's organs and tissue are suitable for donation, and smokers and people with other health conditions have saved - and continue to save - lives through organ donation.
Having a tattoo does not prevent you from becoming an organ donor.
Drinking alcohol does not prevent you from becoming an organ donor. Although a heavy alcohol intake might affect your ability to donate some organs, specialist healthcare professionals will decide which organs and tissue are suitable for donation on an individual basis.
Does race, or ethnicity matter in organ donation?
We need donors from all communities and ethnicities.
Blood and tissue types need to match for a transplant to be successful, and organs from donors of the same ethnic background as the recipient are more likely to be a close match.
Can you become an organ donor if you are 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.