What is organ donation?

What’s there to know about organ donation?

You might think of someone who’s died as a useless lump of nerve endings who won’t help you with tax returns anymore. But, up to 50 people can benefit from the tissue donated by just one person. Whether you’re interested in organ donation but put off by whole body donation, or you’d be keen to go the whole hog if only you knew more about it, here’s some helpful organ donation facts.

Why do some people donate organs after they die?

  • Some people may feel strongly about helping a particular research cause because they have been personally affected by a disease or illness
  • It may be that a person doesn’t think donating their organs means that they are tampering with or mishandling their body
  • Some people still insist on appearing useful after death

How and what can I donate?

You can’t usually pick and choose the body parts you thought were your greatest assets, even if you know someone else would feel great with them.

Tissue is the most commonly donated part of the body. Bone and skin tissues can be donated by someone who has not necessarily died in a hospital, and up to 48 hours after death.

Organs, on the other hand, can only be donated if a person dies in a hospital. It should be noted that consent for organ donation can’t be given by anyone else after your death.

Whole body donation is viable after you’ve made your plans known in writing and this has been witnessed. After death, the nearest medical should be contacted. Though, donation may not always be possible – medical schools will only accept bodies if there is a need at the time. If you do donate your body, you’ll not get a funeral until the hospital is done with it. Though, it is usual for the medical school to arrange and pay for a funeral if that’s what you would have wanted. 

How can my body help?

Medical schools accept certain tissues and some of the major organs. Here’s a lowdown on the most helpful parts of your body.

Brain and Spinal Cord Tissue

This can help with research into conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia. You don’t have to necessarily have had these conditions as researcher’s benefit from making comparison between the tissue of those who’ve had them and those who haven’t.


Kidney donation can directly help those who are dependent on daily dialysis. Donated kidneys can also be potentially used for kidney transplants.


If you have a competition with aging friends on who’ll have the most helpful body after you die, then liver donation is a safe bet. The liver supports almost all of the organs in the body yet, unlike other organs, there is no device that can perform the job of the liver as a long-term solution.


A lung donation can help with treating cystic fibrosis, any chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung scarring.

Small bowel

Donating the small bowel can help those with Crohns disease, some digestive disorders and short bowel syndrome.


You are able to donate your pancreas but the transplant is usually very complicated, and they aren’t commonly successful. Though, you may help those who do not respond to insulin treatment or those who have kidney disease.

A whole body

A donated body can be used for scientific research, education and training. 

How do I register for organ donation?

Go to the NHS Organ Donation Register or pick up an organ donation card from a hospital, GP surgery or pharmacy. You can also find more information on the Human Tissue Authority website.

Being clear on what organ donation is allows you to think more openly about what options there are available to you after your gone, as well as proving that we can be useful after death.

Leave a Reply 0 comments