Every year, hundreds of opportunities for life-saving organ transplants are missed. Why? Because not enough people share their decision to be an organ donor when they die – leaving loved ones uncertain about their choice.

Whether or not you would like to be an organ donor, telling your family and friends is an important part of this decision to give them the certainty they need to support it.

To provide you with the facts – and to help prepare you for a conversation with your loved ones, we’ve partnered with NHS Blood and Transplant to give you the lowdown on all of the important information surrounding organ donation.

What is organ donation?

Mother and daughter talking


Organ donation is the amazingly generous act of donating your organs to others when you die. If you choose to be an organ donor, you could save or transform the lives of up to nine people and many more by donating tissue.

Organ donation has changed to an opt-out system in England and Wales, and in Scotland from 26th March 2021. Northern Ireland has an opt-in system. Wherever you live in the UK you still have a choice if you want to be an organ donor or not when you die, and you can register this decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register so everyone’s clear.

Sadly, every day across the UK someone dies waiting for an organ transplant. If you choose to donate some, or all, or your organs and tissues you could give someone in need of a transplant the chance of a longer, healthier life and more time with their own families.

In this video, families talk about how they had the conversation about organ donation - and why it’s so important to talk about your decision

Get the facts

Having all the right information about organ donation will help you to decide if you want to be an organ donor and it also makes it easier to talk about organ donation with your family or friends – especially if they have questions to ask you.

Age, current health, faith, or ethnicity needn’t stop you from choosing to be an organ donor and registering your decision. Whether or not some, or all, of your organs or tissues are suitable for transplant is something that’s only determined after death, at the time of donation – taking into account your medical, travel and social history.

90% of families in the UK support organ donation going ahead when they know it’s what their loved ones would have wanted. You can use the advice and tips that we’re sharing over the coming days to help you approach this conversation at home.

Visit organdonation.nhs.uk for more advice about your choices and how to record your decision.

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.