Doctors won’t save me if I’m an organ donor

If you’re ill or injured, the appropriate medical professionals will be dedicated to giving you the best possible care and doing everything they can to save your life. If a patient reaches a point where nothing more can be done to save their life, the medical team will discuss with their family about beginning end of life care. Only when end of life care planning is started is the NHS Organ Donor Register accessed by a Specialist Nurse for organ donation and the possibility of organ donation discussed with your family

I might not really be dead

Death is confirmed in exactly the same way for people who donate organs as for those who don’t.  Death has to be confirmed by a doctor who is entirely independent of the transplant team. There are strict criteria in place in the UK to help those caring for the dying, by providing safe, timely and consistent criteria for the diagnosis of death.

Organs are never removed until a patient’s death has been confirmed in line with these criteria.

It’s possible for a brain dead person to recover from their injuries

Many organ donors are patients who have died as a result of a severe head injury, stroke or brain haemorrhage and are on a ventilator in a hospital intensive care unit. When someone is brain dead, it means that the brain is no longer working in any capacity and never will again. Other organs, such as the heart, kidneys or liver, can still work for a short time if the breathing machine is left in place, but when brain death is declared, it means the person has died.

Brain death is diagnosed by brain stem tests and there are clear and very strict criteria and procedures in place. Brain death is determined in the hospital by two doctors not associated with a transplant team.

I can’t donate blood, so I can’t be an organ donor

The criteria for donating blood are different from the criteria for organ donation.  If you don’t or can’t give blood you can still be a potential organ donor.  

The decision about whether some or all organs or tissue are suitable for transplant is always made by a medical specialist at the time of donation, taking into account your medical history.

Organ donation will leave my body disfigured

Organ donation does not cause any obvious disfigurement to the donor’s body. Organs and tissue are always removed with the greatest of care and respect. The patient’s wounds are closed and dressed the same as after any other operation.

Being a donor causes delays to funeral arrangements

Burial traditions in Northern Ireland are often different than in other parts of the UK. The organ donation operation is performed as soon as possible after death. To allow the process to be organised and successful donation to take place, it can cause a short delay to funeral arrangements, possibly up to 24 hours. After this, however, funeral arrangements can be made as normal, including the option to have an open coffin.