Organ Donation

Organ and Tissue donation  Is giving an Organ or Tissue to help someone who needs a transplant. Heart, Lungs, Liver, Kidneys, Pancreas and Small Bowel can all be donated in Northern Ireland. Tissues such as corneas and heart valves can also be donated.

Transplants are one of the most miraculous achievements of modern medicine and can save and help transform the lives of other people. However, they depend completely on donors and their families supporting  organ or tissue donation.

One Organ donor can help save the lives and improve the quality of life for up to 9 people.

The more people who pledge to donate their organs and tissue after their death, the more people stand to benefit. By choosing to join the NHS Organ Donor Register you could help to make sure life goes on for many others.

Over 150  people in Northern Ireland are on the transplant waiting list and sadly around 15 people die each year waiting for an Organ. Despite support for organ donation being extremely high, only  55% of people have opted in on the Organ Donor register website.

The law around organ donation has changed to an opt-out system.  The law is known as ‘Dáithí’s Law’ and means, in the event that organ donation is a possibility after you die, it will be considered that you agree to being an organ donor unless you choose to opt out or are in an excluded group.

Organ donation is a personal decision and you will still have a choice if you wish to donate or not.

Whatever you decide, please remember to talk to loved ones about your decision so they will know what you would have wanted.


  • How to Register

    In Northern Ireland Organs and Tissues from a potential donor will only be used if that is your decision. You can indicate your decision  in a number of ways such as telling a relative or close friend, by carrying an organ donor card or recording your decision  on the NHS Organ Donor Register. Putting your name on the NHS Organ Donor Register makes it easier for the NHS to establish your decision  and for those closest to you in life to follow them.

    The majority of relatives agree to organ donation when they know their loved ones decisions, so it is important that you discuss organ and tissue donation with the people closest to you so that, if the time ever comes, they will find it easier to confirm your decisions  to NHS professionals.

    You can join the NHS Organ Donor Register by:

  • Procedure and Suitability

    While only a few people die in circumstances which would enable their organs to be donated, Organs have to be transplanted very soon after death. They can only be donated by someone who has died in hospital.

    Usually, these patients are on a ventilator in an intensive care unit or the emergency department and are declared brain dead or die despite medical treatment, generally as a result of a brain haemorrhage, major accident like a car crash, or a stroke.

  • Consent and Common Questions

    Many people find giving consent to donate their family member’s organs a challenging decision but one that brought a small piece of positivity to a traumatic experience and somehow gave meaning to their loved one’s death.


    Below are some questions which may help you make your decision.


    Can I be sure doctors will try to save the life of my loved one if they are registered as a potential organ donor?

    Yes. Health professionals have a duty of care to try and save life first. If, despite their efforts, the patient dies, organ and tissue donation can then be considered and a completely different team of donation and transplant specialists would be called in.

    Does donation leave the body disfigured?

    Organs and tissue are always retrieved with the greatest of care and respect. This takes place in a normal operating theatre under sterile conditions by specialist doctors. Afterwards the surgical incision is carefully closed and covered by a dressing in the normal way. Patient can still donated corneas after death within 24hours in either the hospital mortuary, dedicated donation facilitated or hospital theatres.

    Is it possible for family to see the body after donation?

    Yes. Families are given the opportunity to spend time with their loved one after the operation if they wish and this is facilitated by the specialist nurse. Arrangements for viewing the body after donation are the same as after any death.


Picture of Organ Donation Card

Contact Details


For further information on Organ Donation you can view our information leaflet here or contact the Specialist Nurse at the Ulster Hospital:

Call us(028) 9041 1470

NHS Donor Line (Register to be an Organ Donor)

Lines are open 24 hours a day all year round. Calls are charged at local rate.

Call us (0300) 123 2323