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.


For conditions such as heart disease, sometimes medication or conventional operations no longer work. A transplant is sometimes the only option.


Many patients needing a transplant have chronic infection of the lungs from either cystic fibrosis or other conditions such as bronchiectasis.


When kidneys fail, people suffer tiredness, swelling, breathlessness, anaemia, anxiety and nausea.  A kidney transplant frees patients from the burden of dialysis.


Transplantation is usually done either to treat the symptoms of a disease such as primary biliary cirrhosis, or to save the life of a patient dying from liver failure.


A pancreas transplant is the only treatment which restores insulin independence for people with Type 1 diabetes, and can prevent, or slow down, diabetic complications like blindness and kidney failure.

Small bowel

Small bowel transplantation is a treatment for both adults and children with intestinal failure – helping avoid life-threatening infections and other complications.


Tissue transplantation offers huge benefits to many people.  It can relieve pain, improve sight or enable recipients to return to work and get on with living a normal life.

Heart valves can save the lives of patients, including young children born with malformed hearts, or suffering from diseased or damaged valves. 

Cornea donation can help patients suffering from severe eye disease or injury. 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.