Organ donation

Organ donation gives the gift of life to others. If you join the NHS Organ Donor Register, and talk to your family about your wishes, you could help save the lives of up to seven people.

Join the organ donor register

Around 200 people in Northern Ireland are waiting for an organ transplant and sadly around 15 people die each year while on the waiting list.

If you have decided to add your name to the NHS Organ Donor Register, there are a number of ways you can sign up, including:

The NHS Organ Donor Register also allows people who do not want to be an organ donor to register that choice. People can also register details of a representative, or representatives, if they feel they would want someone make the decision for them after death.

If you change your mind at any stage, you can change your decision by updating your details on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Talk about your wishes

Whatever you decide, it is very important to talk to your family or a friend about your wishes. Sharing your decision prepares those closest to you in case anything should happen.

Deciding to become an organ donor is entirely your decision but it does affect your family. After your death your family will be consulted and any decision they make will be respected.

When families or friends know the wishes of their loved ones, it makes the situation less stressful and can give them the confidence to fulfil your wish of being an organ donor or not.

Who can donate an organ?

Anyone can become an organ donor. It doesn’t matter what age you are or how your health is, you can still be an eligible donor. When the time comes, specialist healthcare professionals will decide if your organs are suitable for donation. The important thing is that you’re registered and have spoken to your family about your wishes.

Anyone over the age of 14 can sign the NHS Organ Donor Register.

‘Speak up and save a life’ campaign

You can find further information about organ donation and the ‘Speak up and save a life’ campaign at the following link:

What to do after a death

After a death you will have to act quickly if it was the wish of the deceased or the nearest relative to donate organs for transplant.

The next-of-kin will usually be approached to make sure they do not object to organ donation.

If the death has to be reported to the coroner, the coroner’s consent may be necessary before the organs or body can be donated. A medical certificate must be issued before any organs can be removed or the body donated for medical teaching.

The doctor attending will advise on procedure. After organ donation, the body is released to the relatives.

Whole body donation and medical teaching

Contact the Centre for Bio Medical Sciences Education/Anatomy with the School of Medicine/Dentistry and Bio Medical Science about whole body donation. This is at:

Queen's University Belfast (QUB)
Whitla Medical Building
97 Lisburn Road

Consideration will be given to the place and cause of death, the condition of the body at the time of death and demand in the medical schools. The body may then be accepted. Bodies may be refused if there has been a post-mortem or if any major organs except the cornea have been removed.

A body may be kept for medical teaching purposes for up to three years. The medical schools will arrange and pay for a simple funeral, or the relatives can do this for themselves. The medical school can advise relatives when the body is available for funeral. More information can be obtained from Queen's University.

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