The NHS Organ Donor Register was set up in 1994 and is a confidential, computerised listing of those wishing for their organs to be donated if possible.
Organs can only be donated if a person dies in hospital, usually in intensive care, where the blood can be kept circulating. However, tissue (such as bone, skin, heart valves, corneas and many others) can be donated up to 48 hours after a death, which does not necessarily need to have occurred in a hospital. Up to 50 people can benefit from tissue donated by just one person.
In some parts of the UK adults are now considered to have agreed to become an organ donor when they die, unless they have recorded their decision not to donate or they are in an excluded group. Find out what the law is where you live.
You can register or change your organ donation decision online or by calling the NHS Organ Donor Line on 0300 123 2323.
You can also express your wishes by:
- Including them in a Will
- Recording them in writing
- Telling someone verbally (this should normally be your next of kin or someone you have appointed to make medical decisions on your behalf)
It is important for your loved ones to know what you would have wished for when it comes to organ and tissue donation.