Organ Donation

Every day, 3 people die waiting for an organ transplant in the UK - over a thousand patients a year.

We can't save those who have died, but we can try and help the thousands waiting for an organ, or tissue for transplant in this country at this moment.

By registering as an organ donor, or simply by discussing your wishes with loved ones, you could potentially help save a life. The gift of life truly is the greatest gift you could ever give.

Organ failure can affect anyone at any time. Many of you may know or have known somebody with the need for a transplant and some may even have family members who are waiting.

None of the Trust sites are transplant centres, which means we do not carry out organ transplant surgery on-site. However, our Organ Donation Group works with families to help them see through a decision by a loved one to donate their organs after death.

In Spring 2020, organ donation in England moved to an 'opt out' system. You may also hear it referred to as 'Max and Keira's Law'. This means that all adults in England are considered to have agreed to be an organ donor when they die unless they have recorded a decision not to donate or are in one of the excluded groups.

You still have a choice if you want to be an organ donor or not when you die. NHS Blood and Transplant have issued advice and guidance on the changes. 

Tissue donation

The majority of those who join the NHS Organ Donor Register choose to donate all their organs. However, you can also choose to donate your tissues.

Human tissue consists of cells within the body that are similar in appearance and have the same function. Donating tissue can dramatically improve the quality of life for others. As many as 50 people can be helped by the donation from one person.

Many kinds of tissue can be donated after death including skin, tendons, bone, heart valves and eyes to help repair or rebuild the lives of thousands of severely injured people. It is also possible to donate bone or amniotic membrane (part of the placenta) in certain hospitals while you are alive, during hip surgery or an elective caesarean.

Unlike organ donation, you don’t need to die in a hospital intensive care unit or emergency department to donate tissue after death. Almost anyone can be considered for tissue donation, and donation needs to take place within 24 - 48 hours of death. To ensure that all donated tissues are safe, the donor’s medical and lifestyle history is assessed at the time of donation.

What Tissues can be Donated?

  • Cornea

The cornea is used to help restore sight to people with cornea problems caused by eye disease, injury, or birth defects. Disease or injury can make the cornea cloudy or distorted, causing vision loss.

  • Heart Valves

Heart valves can be transplanted to save the lives of children born with heart defects and adults with damaged heart valves.

  • Skin

Donated skin can be used as a natural dressing to help treat people with serious burns by stopping infections and to reduce scarring and reduce pain.

  • Bone

Donated bone can be used in bone grafts which can make an enormous difference, restoring health and mobility to many patients.

  • Tendons

Tendons attach bones and muscles to each other and donated tendons can be used to help rebuild damaged joints.

Living Tissue Donation

It is possible to donate bone or part of your placenta whilst you’re alive to help others. NHS Organ Donation work with specific hospitals to give people the opportunity to donate bone and amniotic membrane (part of the placenta) when having planned hip surgery or giving birth by elective caesarean section.


Tissue from a donor is only used with their consent or with their family’s consent after they die.

If you want to make a real difference by being a tissue donor after your death, there are two important steps you need to take:

Read the consent to tissue donation leaflet (pdf) to learn what it means to agree to tissue donation.

Everyone can join the NHS Organ Donor Register regardless of age, as long as they:

  • Are legally capable of making the decision
  • Live in the UK.

Further information

View Human Tissue Authority (HTA) website (opens in a new window) >

How do we support organ donation?

The Trust wide Organ Donation Committee aims to increase the number of people signed up to the Organ Donor Register and to facilitate education and referrals within the Trust. 

Contact information

Royal Derby Hospital

Dr Gregory Fletcher, Clinical Lead for organ donation

Queen's Hospital Burton

Dr Ian Poxon, Clinical Lead for organ donation

Specialist nurses for organ donation

Helen Hale, SNOD

Watch Liz Docker, one of our Committee members, tell the story of her son Simon who was an organ donor.