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Tissue and organ donation

Thousands of lives are saved every year thanks to tissue and organ donors. Organ donors can transform the lives of up to nine people, and one tissue donor can change the lives of around 50 people.

Advances in medical science mean that more people each year are able to benefit from donated tissue, including corneas and bone.

Our trust is a Tissue Donation Alliance Site. This means that adult deaths are referred to NHS Blood and Transplant so the possibility of tissue donation can be explored.

The families of loved ones who pass away may be contacted by a specialist nurse from NHS Blood and Transplant shortly after the death.

Donation will only take place if the family is happy to proceed.

About tissue donation

Tissue such as skin, bone and heart valves can save and dramatically improve the quality of life for others. Cornea donation can enable people to see again.

  • Eye: the cornea – the clear tissue at the front of the eye - can be transplanted to restore the sight of patients who have lost their vision due to damage caused by disease or injury, or defects from birth. Most people can donate their corneas.
  • Heart valves: help to save the lives of children born with heart defects and adults with damaged heart valves.
  • Skin: can be used as a natural dressing, helping to treat people with serious burns to stop infection and survive their injuries, as well as helping to reduce scarring and pain.
  • Bone: is important for people receiving artificial joint replacements, or replacing bone that has been removed due to illness or injury.
  • Tendons: help repair or replace damaged tendons or ligaments which enable people to move more easily

Will tissue donation interfere with funeral arrangements?

Donation will not delay any funeral arrangements. Tissue is normally donated within 24 hours after a patient has died. Throughout the donation the donor is treated with respect and dignity. After donation our specialist team will ensure the donor maintains a natural appearance. The family can view the patient following donation.

How can I find out more?

You can find out more about tissue donation in this leaflet, on the NHS Blood and Transplant Service website or you can speak to a specialist nurse directly by calling 0800 432 0559.

About organ donation

Organ transplants can save or greatly enhance the lives of other people. At any time, there are around 6,500 people on the UK transplant waiting list.

Many vital organs can be donated including:

  • Kidneys
  • Heart
  • Liver
  • Lungs
  • Pancreas
  • Small bowel

From May 2020, the law in England changed to an ‘opt out’ system for organ donation, meaning all adults are understood to have agreed to become organ donors when they die, unless they have made it known that they do not wish to donate (This also applies to tissue donation).

The opt out system does not apply to those under the age of 18, those without capacity to make a decision and those who have lived in England less than 12 months before their death.

We will still always discuss any potential organ donation with family. A specialist nurse will ensure families are fully informed about the process before completing written consent.

The donor will always be treated with dignity and respect throughout the organ donation process.

Patients can only donate organs at the end of their life if they are in an ITU or ED department on a ventilator.

How can I find out more?

For more information about organ donation you can visit the NHS Organ Donation website or telephone 0300 123 2323.