Get the facts about organ and tissue donation
Discover the truth behind some common misconceptions about organ and tissue donation.
Your donation decision is important, whatever it may be. Use this information to help you make an informed choice, and then tell your family and friends.
There is no age limit for becoming an organ and tissue donor.
For organs, the deciding factor is generally the donor's physical condition, rather than their age. Organs or tissue from people in their early 80s, such as kidneys or corneas, are often transplanted successfully. While there are maximum ages for some organs or tissue, in every case, specialist healthcare professionals will decide which organs and tissue are suitable, so don’t let your age or health stop you from recording a decision.
In Scotland, children between the age of 12 and 16 can 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.
Having an illness or a medical condition does not necessarily prevent you from becoming an organ or tissue donor. There are very few conditions where organ and tissue donation is ruled out completely.
The decision about whether some or all of your organs or tissue are suitable for transplant is made by specialist healthcare professionals at the time of donation. The families of a potential organ and tissue donor are always asked a number of questions to assess the potential donor’s medical, travel and social history.
If you don’t or can’t give blood you can still be a potential organ and tissue donor.
There may be specific reasons why it has not been possible for you to donate blood or there may be reasons why you could not give blood because of your health at the time.
The decision about whether some or all organs or tissue are suitable for transplant is always made by specialist healthcare professionals at the time of donation, taking into account your medical history.
We need donors from all communities and ethnicities.
All the major religions and belief systems in the UK are open to the principles of organ and tissue donation and transplantation and accept that donation is an individual choice.
Can I choose which organs and tissue I want to donate?
Everyone has a choice as to whether or not they want to become an organ and tissue donor, and if you agree to donate, you can choose to donate either some or all of your organs and tissue.
By registering to become an organ and tissue donor you have the option to donate organs such as your heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas and small bowel and tissue such as heart valves, tendons and corneas. All of these forms of donation can greatly enhance or even save the life of someone who is on the transplant waiting list.
Why is there a need for more organs and tissue?
With around 500 people each year waiting on a transplant and not enough donors to help all of these people, all of us can do something to help, whatever our age, and whatever our health.
Only around 1% of people die in the rare circumstances where organ and tissue donation may be able to go ahead, so every opportunity for donation is very precious.
Are organs sometimes bought and sold?
No, this is absolutely not true. The transplant laws in the UK absolutely prohibit the sale of human organs or tissue.