Organ Donation and Transplantation

Currently there are around 6,500 people on the UK national transplant waiting list and, during the last financial year, over 400 people either died whilst on the waiting list. This is because, despite more than 500,000 people dying each year in the UK, fewer than 6,000 people die in circumstances where they can become a donor.

NHSBT is responsible for managing the National Transplant Database which includes details of all donors and patients who are waiting for, or who have received, a transplant. We maintain the NHS Organ Donor Register (ODR), and provide a 24-hour service for supporting donor families. We are also responsible for matching and allocating donated organs in a fair and unbiased way, including the transport arrangements to get the organs to patients.

Organ bag in operating theatre

We would like to thank the donor families, the NHS, professional organisations and local communities for their support and commitment over the last five years which resulted in a 50% increase in the number of deceased donors and a 30.5% increase in transplants in 2012/13 versus the levels achieved in 2007/08. This led to more than 3,100 lives being transformed through a transplant in 2012/13.

Our ambition is to match world-class performance in organ donation and transplantation. We will work to achieve this by delivering against the strategy launched in the summer of 2013 which has the full support of the four UK Governments. To support this strategy we are calling on the public for a revolution in attitudes to consent to donation. Without that, the UK will never achieve the best global outcomes in saving more lives through organ transplantation.

In the years ahead we will continue to play our part – our Specialist Nurses in Organ Donation (SN-ODs) will continue to approach, work with and care for potential donor families. Clinical Leads in Organ Donation (CL-ODs) will continue to promote donation at Trust and hospital level and our Donation Committees will continue to promote donation at local and community level.

We will continue to promote donation ( in partnership with local councils, in schools, communities and with faith groups across the UK. We share best practice and learnings across the donation and transplantation community – We are exploring social marketing techniques and learning from other organisations and experts in the field about how best to change public attitudes and behaviours.

We continue to promote both deceased and living donation across the UK through programmes such as Organ Donation week (which encourages people to feel proud at the thought of being a donor and celebrates their loved one's actions). We continue to work with UK Governments on the implementation of any legislative changes to organ donation.

Everyone irrespective of age or health and who is considered legally competent can join the NHS Organ Donor Register. Joining the Register expresses a wish to help others by donating organs for use in transplantation after death but importantly, joining the Register also is a way to give legal consent or authorisation for donation to take place.

Entry in the Register provides legal consent for the donation of your organs. Children can register but their parents, guardians or those with parental responsibility will be asked to provide their consent should the child's death lead to donation being considered.

You can also join the Register when:

  • Registering for a driving licence
  • Applying for a Boots Advantage card
  • Registering at a GP surgery
  • Registering for a European Health Insurance card (EHIC)

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