How many lives could one organ donor save?

Multiple heart shapes on a table
(Image credit: Getty)

Whether or not you choose to be a life-saving organ donor when you die, knowing the facts surrounding organ donation can massively help you make your decision. Here, we’re sharing some of the lesser-known truths about this amazingly generous act. 

One organ donor could save up to nine lives!

Did you know that by deciding to be an organ donor when you die, you could help save or transform the lives of up to nine people and many more by donating tissue?

90% of families in the UK support organ donation – when they know

Your loved ones will always be involved before organ donation goes ahead, so talking to them now is important. 

You can donate tissue too

If you decide to be an organ donor, you can select to donate all, or some of your organs – such as your kidneys, heart, liver, lungs, pancreas and/or small bowel. You can also donate your tissues – including heart valves and arteries, skin, bone and corneas to help others live a longer, better life.

Cornea donation can restore eyesight

You can choose to give someone 'the gift of sight’ by making the decision to donate your corneas. There is a shortage of donors for this vision-restoring transplant – so register your decision and tell your family if you’d be happy to donate yours.   

woman and adult daughter chatting

Last year in the UK, over 1,500 people donated organs when they died

This hugely generous gift from these donors and their families helped to save or transform over 3,500 lives. 

Over 6,000 people are currently waiting for an organ transplant

The average waiting time for someone in need of a kidney transplant is just under two years, although it can be shorter or longer than this. 

People from minority ethnic backgrounds face a longer wait

On average, Asian patients on the transplant list will wait up to six months longer for a suitable organ, and black patients wait up to a year longer than white patients. Organ donors from all ethnicities are needed. 

Woman forming a heart shape with hands

Only 1% of people in the UK die in circumstances where they can donate

Organ donations that are suitable for transplant will usually only come from those who have died in a hospital intensive care unit or emergency department.

It takes 2 minutes to register your decision

Whether or not you decide to be an organ donor is still your choice – the best thing you can do is talk to your family about it and register your decision at 

Ali Horsfall
Senior Writer

Senior writer Ali Horsfall has almost 15 years of experience as a journalist and has written for national print titles and women’s lifestyle brands including Woman & Home, Woman, Woman's Own, BBC magazines, Mothercare, Grazia and The Independent.