You can become an organ donor by just telling your family or next-of-kin that you wish to donate your organs after your death. Your family or next-of-kin can inform a doctor or another healthcare professional in a hospital if they are asked about your wishes regarding organ donation. Simple ways to indicate your wishes are to carry an organ donor card or to sign the organ donation option on the back of your driving licence.
You can donate certain organs while you are alive. Living organ donors can donate a kidney. To become a living donor, you must give informed consent. More organs may only be donated after death (that is, kidneys, heart, lungs, pancreas, heart valves, eyes, etc.). Having a medical condition does not prevent you from becoming a donor (an individual decision will be made by a healthcare professional at the time of your death).
Saying “yes” to donation will not affect your medical care. If you are sick or injured, a doctor’s top priority is to save your life. It is important to know that the removal of organs is carried out with the same care and respect as any other operation. Organ donation does not disfigure the body or change the way it looks nor does it cause any delay to funeral arrangements.
Organs that can be transplanted are the lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, pancreas and small intestine. Commonly donated tissues include corneas, bone, tendons, ligaments, skin, and heart valves. One organ, eye and tissue donor can save or improve up to 50 lives!
The quality of care for a potential donor at the end of his or her life, and the wishes of their family, is always the foremost consideration of those involved, and is never compromised by the potential for organ donation.