Organ and tissue donation in Scotland
Having a serious medical condition doesn’t necessarily exclude you from being an organ donor.
Many people think that if they have a serious medical condition, 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. Donating tissue such as your corneas, or your body for medical research is usually possible, but there may be some situations when it isn’t.
To find out more about organ and tissue donation and whether it’s possible for you to be a donor, speak to one of your healthcare professionals or visit Organ Donation Scotland's website. You can register to donate your organs and/or tissue after your death through Organ Donation Scotland. You can do this online, by phone or by texting.
It is important to discuss donation with the people closest to you so that, if the time ever comes, they will find it easier to carry out your wishes.
The corneas are usually suitable for donation if a person dies with a medical condition such as cancer. 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. 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.
For corneal donations to be possible, certain processes must be arranged and followed after a person dies so that the corneas are kept healthy. If you die at home, rather than in a hospice, care home or hospital, arranging and following these processes may not always be possible. This may mean that your corneas can’t be donated. You can talk to your healthcare team about this. They will tell you more about the processes involved in tissue donation in the area where you live.
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 palliative 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 will need to let the health and social care professional who is dealing with the consent form know. Your wishes will need to be written on the consent form.
Not everyone who wishes to donate their body will be able to do so. This may sometimes be due to medical reasons. The Human Tissue Authority can give you information about donating your body for medical research.