About the NHS Organ Donor Register
The NHS Organ Donor Register (ODR) is a secure and confidential database of people who have recorded a decision to donate, or not to donate their organs and tissue after their death.
The law on organ and tissue donation in Scotland is changing in March 2021 to an ‘opt out’ system. This means that you will be considered to have agreed to be a donor when you die, unless you choose to opt out or you are in one of the excluded groups.
You can still choose to register your support for donating your organs and tissue. Either way, it is important that you register your decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register and tell your loved ones as this will make it easier for them to honour your decision when you die.
Adults and children can record their donation decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register.
In Scotland, the law governing donation sets out that an adult is aged 16 and over.
Scottish law allows children between the ages of 12 and 16 to record their own donation decision on the register.
If a child is under the age of 12, a parent, their closest family member or a person with parental rights and responsibilities (e.g. their legal guardian) can register a donation decision for their child.
You can permanently record your donation decision which includes either:
- registering to donate your organs and tissue and specifying which organs and tissue you agree to donate
- registering not to donate your organs and tissue
If you die in the rare circumstances where you could become a donor, authorised specialist nurses will check the register to see if you wanted to be a donor or not and, if so, what organs and/or tissue you had agreed to donate.
This information helps them when they are talking to your family, and if they can share your donation decision with your loved ones, then your family are more likely to honour this.
Your details from the Register are not used or shared with any other organisations for any other purposes.
The first time you register a decision in support of donating your organs and tissue, you will receive a letter in the post confirming your registration details. You will also receive an organ donor card.
If you register that you do not want to donate your organs and tissue, you will receive a letter confirming your decision to opt out. You will not receive an opt out card.
If you amend your details, withdraw your registration or if you re-register your decision, you will receive a confirmation letter only.
Whatever you decide, it is important that you register your decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register and share your decision with your family and friends.
Carrying an organ donor card is just one way to confirm your donation decision. However you don’t need to carry an organ donor card for your organs or tissue to be donated as sometimes cards are not available at such a critical time.
Specialist nurses will always check the NHS Organ Donor Register first and foremost to check whether you had recorded a donation decision.
If you have lost your donor card and would like a replacement you can print your own organ donor card.
If you have any questions about your organ donor card contact the helpline on 0300 303 2094. They are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
What if I don’t want to record my decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register?
The clearest way to record your donation decision is on the NHS Organ Donor Register. However, if you don’t want to do that, you can make a declaration in writing, such as a letter or email and send this your family and friends so they know your decision.
Please don’t rely on recording your decision in your will. Wills are not usually read until after donation is possible.
Donation is a personal decision and people can change their minds at any time.
If you have already registered on the NHS Organ Donor Register and then decide you no longer want to donate your organs and tissue, you can either:
- Opt out - this means that you are opting out of the donation of all organs and tissue.
- Withdraw your existing registration - by withdrawing your existing registration from the register, your decision will no longer be on record. Withdrawing is not the same as opting out. You must have previously chosen to register a donation decision in order to withdraw one.
- If you have not recorded a donation decision it will be considered that you agree to donate certain organs and tissue for transplantation when you die unless you are in an excluded group set out by the law or it has been established through discussion with your family or friends that donation would be against your views.
- If you have already registered an opt out decision and then change your mind, you can register to become a donor and you can specify which organs and tissue you agree to donate.
The best way to check whether you’re already on the NHS Organ Donor Register is to call the helpline on 0300 303 2094.
You will be asked to provide your full name and date of birth. If an entry is found your details will be checked and can be updated where necessary. If no entry is found, you will be given the option to either choose to register your support for donating your organs and tissue or confirm that you do not want to be a donor by opting out.