Why involve your family in your decision

Deciding to become an organ donor is entirely your decision but it does affect your family. Should you die in circumstances that would allow donation to be possible, your family will always be consulted and any decision they make will be respected. When people know their loved ones’ organ donation decision, it makes the situation less stressful and can give your family the confidence to fulfil your decision to be an organ donor.

When someone dies, it can be a difficult and stressful time for those closest to them. By signing the register and talking to your family about your decision, you are removing the burden from them to make that decision for you. Families can take comfort from knowing what you wanted and from seeing something positive coming from their loss.

Special Nurse Heather Savage explains why it’s so important to have a conversation:

Your family's role

Have the organ donation heart-to-heart

Even though the law have changed to opt-out, your family will always be consulted about whether you wanted to be an organ donor or not, and clinicians will never proceed with organ donation if your family or loved ones object. If you don’t register a decision, or talk to your family about what you would want, they may not be sure what to do.

Even if you decide you don’t want to be an organ donor, you can still help your family through a difficult time by talking to them about your organ donation decision now, and making sure they know what you want. 

Specialist nurses will be available to provide information and support to answer any questions and concerns families may have. This will allow families to make an informed decision about donation and support your decision, if known. That is why it’s very important to discuss your decision with your family and make them aware you want to be an organ donor.

Missed opportunities

Each year, hundreds of opportunities for transplants are missed because families aren't sure what to do.

That’s because only 50% of families agree to organ donation if they do not know their loved ones’ decision.  But this rises to 9 out if 10 if families are aware of what their loved one would have wanted.

Watch Orla's story to learn more about the importance of telling your family about your decision.

Getting started

One of the main reasons people give for not discussing donation is that it never comes up in conversation. Other people say they just haven’t got around to talking about it yet, and some people feel reluctant to talk about what happens after their death.

But talking about organ donation with your family doesn’t need to be difficult. Here are some suggestions to help start the conversation:

  • You could use a recent story that has featured on the news or our social media
  • You could talk about some of the stories featured on our website
  • Explain that an organ donor can save or transform up to nine lives
  • Explain how you arrived at your decision – what prompted you to sign the Organ Donor Register?

Read our 10 helpful tips below:

Get the facts
Find a talking point
Start gently
Help everyone engage
Speak from the heart
Involve the Whole Family
Seek Guidance
Go for it
Find out more and record your decision

Have you got a family group chat?  Why not use that to start the conversation about your organ donation decision.

Transplant Surgeon Dr Aisling Courtney also has some useful advice about talking to your family.

Organ donation in a will

Some people think they should include their organ donation decision in their will, however by the time your will is read it will be too late to carry out your decision. Healthcare professionals will consult both the Organ Donor Register and your family to determine what you would want.

That’s why it’s so important to sign the register and tell your family you have done so.