What is donation?
Donation is giving an organ or tissue to help someone who needs a transplant. If you needed an organ transplant would you have one? Almost everyone would, however only about 1 in 3 people have signed the organ donation register.
Being an organ donor is a generous and worthwhile decision that can save lives. Transplants can save or greatly enhance the lives of other people. But this relies on donors and their families agreeing to donate their organ or tissue. Thousands of people in the UK are waiting for an organ transplant. Many of whom die before a suitable donor organ is found.
Types of donation
There are four different ways to donate. These are:
Donation after Brain stem death – This is where a person no longer has activity in their brain stem due to a severe brain injury. They have permanently lost the potential for consciousness and the capacity to breathe. This may happen even when a ventilator is keeping the person’s heart beating and oxygen is circulated through their blood.
Donation after Circulatory death – This is where there Is irreversible loss of function of the heart and lungs after a cardiac arrest from which the patient cannot or should not be resuscitated. Unfortunately the vast majority of patients who die from circulatory death do so in uncontrolled circumstances such that they can not become organ donors. As a result only a small proportion of people who die will die in a way that allows organ donation to occur.
Living donation – Whilst you are still alive you can choose to donate a kidney, a small section of your liver, discarded bone from a hip or knee replacement and also your amniotic membrane (placenta).
Tissue Donation – Several types of body tissues such as corneas, heart valves, skin, bones, and tendons can be donated after death and help make a huge difference to people’s lives. We match organs by blood group and tissue type (for kidney transplants). People from the same ethnic group are more likely to be a close match.
Only organs and tissue can be taken from a donor with their consent or with their family’s consent after they die. You can give your consent by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register, You can donate all or any of the following: kidneys, heart, liver, lungs, pancreas, small bowel, corneas, tissue. Everyone can join the NHS Organ Donor Register regardless of age, as long as they are:
- legally capable of making the decision, and
- live in the UK.
Having a medical condition will not usually prevent you from becoming an organ or tissue donor.
The major religions in the UK support the idea of organ donation and transplantation
Donating Your Body To Medical Science
Some people wish to donate their bodies to medical science allowing their body to be used for medical education and approved research. If you want to donate your body to medical science after your death you need to arrange this by completing the necessary documentation and consent prior to your death. To avoid any unnecessary confusion or delays after you die, it is recommended that you also include an updated intention to donate your body in your Will.
If you live in Kent you can arrange this through the London Anatomy office. Their contact details are given below.
The London Anatomy office
5.7, 5th Floor Hodgkin Building
King’s College London
Telephone : Donations Officer 020 7848 8042.
More information can be found on the Human Tissue Authorities Website.