Donation choices

When you sign the NHS Donor Register, you can choose which organs you wish to donate - either some or all of your organs – it’s entirely your choice. When you register to donate your organs, you can also choose to donate your tissues, including your corneas and heart valves. Tissue donation can be used to treat many conditions and injuries including eye disease and heart surgery. 
Below is a list of organs which can be donated and how they can be used.


Blood being pumped around your body by your heart carries oxygen and nutrients. Without the heart, your body wouldn’t get oxygen. Your heart can be transplanted whole or in some cases the valves (pulmonary and aortic) can be transplanted.


Your lungs supply oxygen to your blood and clear carbon dioxide from your body. Without healthy lungs you couldn’t breathe properly.


Your kidneys filter wastes from your blood and convert them to urine. When your kidneys stop working you can develop kidney failure. Harmful wastes and fluids build up in your body and your blood pressure may rise. You can live healthily with one kidney.


Your liver produces bile to clean out your body. If your liver isn’t working right, you will begin to feel tired, experience nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite, brown urine, or even jaundice - yellowing in the whites of your eyes. Your liver can be transplanted whole or in some cases the cells (hepatocytes) can be transplanted.


Your pancreas is in your abdomen. It produces insulin to control your blood sugar levels. If your pancreas is not working correctly your blood sugar level rises, which can lead to diabetes. Your pancreas can be transplanted whole or in some cases the cells (islet cells) can be transplanted.

Small bowel

The small bowel (also small intestine) absorbs nutrients and minerals from food we eat. If your small intestine fails, you wouldn’t be able to digest food. You would need to get nutrition from an alternative method, such as through a drip into your vein. 

Tissue (cornea)

Tissue is a group of cells that carry out a particular job in your body. Tissue donations save hundreds of lives every year. One tissue donor can enhance the lives of more than 50 people.

Cornea donation

The cornea lets light into your eyes, without them you wouldn’t be able to see. The gift of sight is precious. Every day 100 people in the UK start to lose their sight. Almost 2 million people in the UK are living with significant sight loss. Your donation can help someone regain their sight.

The eye is never transplanted whole, just the cornea which is the clear outer layer at the front of the eye that helps the eye to focus light.

Living donation

It is possible to be a living donor. The most common type is kidney donation, when one kidney is removed from a healthy individual and transplanted into a relative or friend. In recent years, it has also become possible for people to donate part of their liver.
Living donation is a major decision, and every person who comes forward undergoes a rigorous assessment. All live donors and recipients are reviewed by an independent assessor who is responsible for making sure there’s no pressure or coercion involved, and that all parties understand the risk of complications.
The Organ Donor Register is only for those who wish to donate after death. To be a living donor, you must contact a transplant centre directly.  More information on living donation is available in our living donation section.