Organ Donation Myth Buster

Thousands of people in the UK are waiting for an organ transplant. Sadly some will never get the call into hospital for their transplant and will die due to a shortage of people willing to donate their organs.

Deciding to donate your organs is a generous and worthwhile decision that can save lives.

If you haven’t registered as a donor because of the information you've heard, then here are answers to some common organ donation myths and concerns.

Common myths about organ donation

Will doctors do their best to save my life?

Healthcare professionals have a duty of care to save your life first.

If, despite their best efforts, death is inevitable, organ and tissue donation will be considered as end of life care discussions start with your family, friends and next of kin.

Only when end of life care planning is started is the NHS Organ Donor Register accessed by healthcare professionals and the possibility of organ donation discussed with the patient’s family.

Am I too old for my organs to be donated?

There is no maximum age for joining the register. The decision about whether some or all organs or tissue are suitable for transplant is always made by a medical specialist at the time of donation, taking into account your medical and social history.

We encourage everyone who supports organ donation, regardless of their age, to sign up to the NHS Organ Donation Register and to share their decision with their family.

I have a medical condition. Can I donate?

Having an illness or medical condition doesn’t necessarily prevent a person from becoming an organ or tissue donor. The decision about whether some or all organs or tissue are suitable for transplant is made by a medical specialist at the time of donation, taking into account your medical, travel and social history.

Do I need to tell my family my organ donation decision? It’s written in my will

By the time your will is read it’s likely to be far too late for you to become a donor. Should you die in circumstances that mean organ donation may be a possibility, medical specialists will discuss organ donation with your next of kin as part of the end of life care discussion.

The medical team will consult the NHS Organ Donor Register to establish your donation decision before discussing it with your family. By telling your family you want to be an organ donor in the event of your death you can relieve them of the burden of having to make the decision at such a difficult time.

So, tell them your decision, let them know you want to be an organ donor.

If I’ve registered as an organ donor, will my family have a say about me donating my organs?

We know that in most cases families will agree to donation if they know that was their loved one's decision. If the family, or those closest to the person who has died, object to the donation even when their loved one has given their explicit permission (either by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register or by carrying an organ donor card) or deemed consent applies, healthcare professionals will discuss the matter sensitively with the family.

They will be encouraged to accept their loved one's decision and it will be made clear that they do not have the legal right to veto or overrule that decision.

There may, nevertheless, be cases where it would be inappropriate for donation to go ahead if donation would cause distress to the family.