Talking to your family about organ donation

Why it’s so important to have the chat

Sadly, one of the common reasons families don’t support organ donation going ahead is because it’s never been talked about it – so they’re uncertain what their loved one would have wanted.

Whatever your organ donation decision, the best thing you can do is talk about it with your family and friends to give them the certainty they need to support it. Here’s a reminder of why talking to your family about organ donation is so important.

Organ donation saves or transforms lives

Every day someone in the UK dies waiting for an organ transplant. If you choose to be an organ donor, you could save or transform up to nine lives and many more by donating tissue – giving people the chance of a longer, healthier life and time with their families. Telling your own family whether or not you’d like to be a donor is an important part of your decision.

You can share your decision

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, and you can register this decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register, so everyone’s clear. Your family will always be involved before organ donation goes ahead – it is only decided if some, or all of your organs or tissue are suitable for transplant after death, at the time of donation.

Adult sisters chatting on sofa

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Your family will be sure of your choices

Did you know that you can choose to donate either all, or some, of your organs? When you register your organ donation decision, you can select to donate your kidneys, heart, liver, lungs, pancreas and/or small bowel, and also your tissues. Donating skin, bone, heart valves and arteries could transform the lives of others. A sight-restoring cornea donation offers someone ‘the gift of sight.’ Talking to your family about organ donation gives them the certainty to support your choices.

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

Myths can be busted

Anyone can register to be an organ donor, but not everyone knows that they can. Medical conditions, faith or ethnicity aren’t barriers to being an organ donor – all the major religions and belief systems in the UK are open to the principals of organ donation and transplantation, and accept that it is an individual choice.

A chat will help loved ones

Eight in ten people in England are willing to donate some or all of their organs when they die but less than half share this decision with their loved ones. If you are able to donate your organs when you die, your family will always be involved before organ donation goes ahead. Have a conversation about organ donation now to make things easier for them at a difficult and upsetting time.

Visit organdonation.nhs.uk to read more about having the conversation, as well as further advice on your choices and how to register your decision.

Remember whatever you decide, share it with your loved ones to give them the certainty they need to support it.