Organ and tissue donation in Northern Ireland
Some people may want to donate their organs or tissue to another person when they die.
The web pages in this section are about the ways people can plan ahead if they live in Northern Ireland. We have other information about planning ahead in England and Wales, and in Scotland.
Many people think that if they have a serious medical condition, then they can’t donate their organs (such as a kidney) or tissue (such as the corneas of the eyes) to another person when they die. But having a serious medical condition doesn’t necessarily exclude you from being an organ donor. You can also usually donate tissue or your body for medical research.
To find out more about organ and tissue donation and whether it’s possible for you to be a donor, speak to your health and social care professionals. You can also visit the NHS Blood and Transplant website. They keep a register of people who wish to donate their organs and/or tissue after their death. You can join the register online or by phoning NHS Blood and Transplant on 0300 123 2323.
It’s important to discuss donation with the people closest to you so that, when the time comes, they will find it easier to carry out your wishes.
The cornea is the clear tissue at the front of each eye. It lets light into the eye and focuses it on the retina so we can see. The cornea is usually suitable for donation if a person dies with a medical condition such as cancer, heart failure or COPD.
When the cornea becomes diseased or injured, vision can be lost. In this situation corneal transplants, which replace the diseased or injured tissue with a disc of healthy tissue from a donor’s eye(s), can successfully restore a person’s sight.
Donating your body for medical researchBack to top
Some people want to donate their body for medical research. If you’re thinking about donating your body, it’s important to discuss this with your GP, hospital or community care team, and with your family or friends closest to you. As part of the donation process, you and your next of kin will be asked to sign a consent form. You can get this form from your local medical school. A copy should be kept with your will.
If you want your body tissue to be used for a specific type of research, you’ll need to tell the health and social care professional who’s dealing with the consent form. Your wishes will need to be written on the consent form.
Not everyone who wishes to donate their body will be able to. The Human Tissue Authority can give you more information about donating your body for medical research.