The NHS Organ Donation Register has over 14 million people signed up across the United Kingdom or almost one quarter of the entire population. These registered donors have chosen, upon their own death, to allow medical staff to attempt to save other lives, or enhance the lives of others, by harvesting their organs and transplanting them into the bodies of those in need. Unfortunately, many people are still unaware of organ donation and what it entails. Please continue reading for some answers to frequently asked questions about organ donations in the UK.
What Is Organ Donation?
Organ donation, upon one’s death, is the act of donating one or more internal organs so that they may be transplanted into the body of someone whose own organs are failing. Often transplants are lifesaving, and at the very least a transplanted organ will help enhance the life of the recipient by allowing them to “get rid” of their failing or diseased organ. The kidneys, pancreas, liver, small bowel, heart and lungs can all be transplanted.
Will I Receive Lesser Medical Care if I am a Donor?
Absolutely not. Medical staff will give you the same standard of care whether you are an organ donor or not. Death will also be confirmed in the same manner whether you are an organ donor or not. In fact, the doctors who will be responsible for your life, and pronouncing a death, will not be associated with the possible transplant.
Can I Donate if I Do Not Die in Hospital?
Possibly. Whether you die in an accident, en route to hospital, in A&E or in a hospital ward you may still be eligible to donate your organs. Medical staff will consider your unique situation when and as it arises.
Are there Specific Age Requirements for Donors?
In Scotland, children under the age of 12 will need a parent or guardian to agree before they may become an organ donor. In the rest of the UK, individuals under the age of 18 will need this agreement. There are no upper age limits for organ donors.
Can I Donate if I Already Have a Medical Condition?
Possibly. Individuals with HIV or CJD can not become organ donors, but all others will be evaluated when the time comes. If you are not eligible to donate blood, you may still be able to become an organ donor. This decision will be made on a case by case basis by the medical staff involved.
Can Anyone Overrule My Decision to Donate if I am a Registered Donor?
If you are a legal adult and you have registered with the NHS Organ Donation Register then there is no legal ability for anyone else to overrule your decision. If, however, your medical or social history is found to be inappropriate for donation, or there is no one who can confirm your history, or there are other extenuating circumstances, it may be that you will be turned down for donation.
How Can I Find Out More About Organ Donation?
Speak with your local GP, contact the NHS or visit the UK Transplant website.