The role of your family

Checks are built into the system to help make sure that donation doesn’t go ahead where it would be against your views, and your family will always be approached if organ or tissue donation is a possibility.

If you die in circumstances where you could become a potential donor, specialist nurses will check the NHS Organ Donor Register to see if you had recorded a donation decision. They will then share this information with your family.

Your family will be asked whether they have any information about your latest views to ensure donation doesn’t proceed where it would be against your wishes.

How your family will be involved

If you have recorded a decision about donation, your family would be expected to support your decision, whatever that is. 

There are a number of reasons for involving families in the donation process:

  • Out of respect for the family who are facing the loss of someone close to them.
  • The family may have important information about the person’s decision around donation that is more recent than any decision recorded on the NHS Organ Donor Register. This will include your views around faith and beliefs to ensure that donation would not go ahead if it wasn’t what you wanted.
  • Family support helps ensure important information about their relative, such as their medical, travel and social history is available to specialist nurses. The information that families provide before organ and tissue donation goes ahead, together with medical notes and other tests, are important to understanding whether the person’s organs and tissue are safe to transplant into somebody else.

If you have not recorded a donation decision either way and you are not in an excluded group, you will be considered as a possible donor. Your family will be asked about your latest views to ensure donation doesn’t go ahead if it’s against your wishes. If they are not aware that you had any objection, donation could go ahead and your family would be expected to support this.

Sharing your donation decision 

Your family will always be involved if donation is possible, so it is really important that you choose whether you want to be a donor or not and discuss what you want to happen with your family, so they can have peace of mind. 

Find out more about why it’s important to tell your family.

Choices available to you

Everyone has their own personal views about organ and tissue donation and you have a choice whether you want to be a donor or not when you die. You can change or update your decision at any point in time and there is no deadline or time limit to record or change your donation decision.