Organ donation is a precious gift. This amazingly generous act saves thousands of lives in the UK every day. 

In fact, the number of donors has been steadily increasing year-on-year since 2015 and despite regional differences and differences in timelines across the UK, the move towards an ‘opt-out’ system across the UK has resulted in  ”more donors than ever before (1,600 in 2019).” – NHS Blood & Transplant Service

If you needed an organ transplant would you have one?

It can be tough to discuss your organ donation decision with your loved ones but this conversation can make a life-changing world of difference to the lives of others who are on the waiting list for transplants.  

Use this information to help you make an informed choice that’s right for you.

What is the NHS Organ Donor Register? 

The NHS Organ Donor Register is a secure database of records of everyone who has decided on what they want to do regarding donating their organs after they die. Anyone can register to donate their organs when they die, regardless of their age and medical conditions. Nevertheless, it’s important to discuss your decision with your family as if your decision is not recorded, your next of kin will be asked to decide on your behalf.

How Can I Register?

All adults in England and Wales are considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when they die unless they have formally chosen to ‘opt-out’ of the register. From March 2021 Scotland will accept an ‘opt-out’ system as well.  

The current legislation for Northern Ireland is to ‘opt- in’ to organ and tissue donation.

Note: Anyone can register an organ donation decision at any age.

 You can join the register:

How Can I  ‘Opt-Out’?

You can also register not to be a donor via the Scottish Organ Donation website (, the Welsh Organ Donation website (, and the Northern Ireland Organ Donation website (

Can I Change My Mind?

Yes, you can change your mind at any time. If you have recorded an organ donation decision and want to change or reaffirm your decision, you can complete the Amend your details form or call 0300 123 23 23.

Can I Nominate Someone To Make An Organ Donation Decision For Me?

Yes, you can appoint someone to make that decision for you. The person you nominate will be asked if your organs should be donated if you die in the circumstances where donation is possible.

Why Is It Essential To Discuss My Decision?

”Fewer than half of families agree to donation going ahead if they are unaware of their loved one’s decision to be a donor. This rises to over 9 out of 10 when the decision to be an organ donor is known.”- NHS Blood & Transplant

It’s important to tell your family that you have joined the register and want to be a donor as your family consent is required after you die.

”Only around 1% of people die in circumstances where their organs could be donated, which means 1 in 100 people in the UK are usually able to be donors.”– NHS Blood and Transplant figures

The most common reason for families not supporting donation is that they are not aware if it is what their relatives would have wanted. 

 If you die in circumstances in which you can donate, medical staff will check the NHS Organ Donor Register and discuss this will your family.

A single organ donor can save up to eight lives. 

Pat McEntee on the impact of a deceased donor on his transplant mentor Bill Westerman (part of the Great Lakes Heart Transplant Fund):

“That donor didn’t just impact Bill; he impacted Bill’s family, friends, the people who had yet to become Bill’s family and friends, including his future grandchildren. A donor’s impact is still being felt many years later. They have left a legacy not many can claim.”

“Without that conversation we would have been lost”

Watch donor families discuss the importance of talking about organ donation, and how this helped them decide to agree to donate their relative’s organs.

Your family won’t know how you feel about organ donation unless you speak to them about it. Tell your family what you want so they can support your decision. Do it today.

Note: Your organ donation decision is very personal, whatever you decide. 

You may want to read some of our other relevant guides, such as:

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