Organ and tissue donation

Organ and tissue donation is the gift of an organ and/or tissue to help someone who needs a transplant.

Organ and tissue transplants can save or improve lives across Scotland.

Deceased organ and tissue donation in Scotland

Only 1% of people die in a way that makes organ donation possible. This means every opportunity for donation is precious.

Scotland has a system of 'deemed authorisation' for organ and tissue donation. This is often referred to as an 'opt out' system.

This means that if you haven't opted out of donation when you die, the system allows for the donation of certain organs and tissue for transplantation. This only applies if you're 16 or over.

The system doesn't apply to particular groups. It also doesn't apply if it would be against your views.

Further information about organ and tissue donation in Scotland.

Registering your choice

Organ and tissue donation is a personal choice.

If you support donation, you can record your decision to be a donor or you can choose to opt out.

Whatever you decide you should record it on the NHS Organ Donor Register and tell your family and friends.

Your family's role

Families play a key role in organ and tissue donation. They'll be asked about your views if you die in a situation where donation is possible. This ensures that donation doesn't go ahead unless you would have wanted it to.

So, whatever your decision, it’s important your family know what you want. This will make it easier for them to honour your decision.

For further information visit the Organ Donation Scotland website.

Living organ and tissue donation in Scotland

Scotland has an opt out system of organ and tissue donation. However, living donation also plays a vital part in helping to save and improve lives.

Living kidney donation

A kidney transplant from a living donor can be planned to avoid or reduce the time someone is on dialysis. This can offer a better long term outcome for the person receiving the organ.

There are 2 types of living kidney donation:

  • directed donation - a person can donate a kidney to someone they know, like a family member or a friend
  • altruistic kidney donation - where a person can donate a kidney anonymously to someone they do not know

Further information about living donation.

Stem cell donation

If you're in good general health, you may be able to register as a blood stem cell donor. If you're a match, this could help someone with blood cancer or a blood disorder.

If you're aged between 16 to 30 you can sign up to be a potential donor on the Anthony Nolan stem cell register.

Anthony Nolan are particularly keen to recruit:

  • young men
  • people from ethnic minority groups

If you're aged between 17 to 55 you can register as a potential donor on the DKMS stem cell register.

Last updated:
21 June 2022