Icon - Kidney donation after death

Kidney donation after death

One deceased donor can transform the lives of up to ten people and significantly improve the lives of many more.

Studies show the majority of Australians are willing to become organ and tissue donors. They also know that family confirmation is required for donation to take place.

For as many people as possible to become potential organ and tissue donors, every family needs to ask their loved ones about organ donation, and know their decisions.

What is a deceased donor?

Deceased donors are people who die with relatively healthy organs that are considered suitable for transplantation. Deceased donors may have indicated they would like to be an organ donor, or their family makes this decision after their death.

Very few people – less than one per cent – will die in hospital in circumstances where it is possible for one or more of their organs to be donated. People are around ten times more likely to need an organ transplant than to become a deceased donor.

The most common type of deceased organ donation is ‘donation after brain death’. Brain death occurs when the brain swells causing a loss of blood flow and oxygen to the brain, and the brain stem stops working. Brain death is death.


How to register to become a donor

There a number of steps to take:

  • Discover the facts about organ and tissue donation.
  • Discuss your thoughts with those close to you.
  • Make an informed choice and register to become a donor.

To register your decision, record your details on the Australian Organ Donor Register, the official national register for organ and tissue donation.

Access the Register here.

For further information you can freecall them on 1800 777 203.

You can also obtain the forms to register, update or remove your contact information from any Medicare Service Centre.

Recording your decision on the Australian Organ Donor Register is voluntary. You must be 16 years or older to register. Only authorised medical personnel have access to the donor register, so your privacy is secure.

The Donor Register allows authorised medical staff to check your donation decision from anywhere in Australia, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They can give this information to your family if you die. Family consent is always needed before organ donation can go ahead.

The steps taken after you die

When someone dies in a situation where they can be an organ or tissue donor, the hospital medical team makes a number of assessments and follows a series of steps:

  • The possibility of donation is raised with the family.
  • The Australian Organ Donor Register is checked.
  • The family is given time to make a decision.
  • If they agree to donation, a donation specialist coordinator will facilitate the process.
  • The organs and/or tissues are donated.

People who donate their organs or tissues after death cannot choose the transplant recipient. Laws protect the confidentiality of the deceased donor, the donor family and the transplant recipient.

There are national guidelines for deciding who will receive a donated organ or tissue in Australia. These guidelines have been developed by The Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand.

Your family's involvement in the consent process

Frequently asked questions

Many questions arise when people are considering or participating in organ donation. Here are answers to commonly asked questions.

Are there any costs involved?
No, the family does not pay for any organ donation procedures. This is the same for public and private hospitals.

Will my body be disfigured?
Removal of organs after death is performed by highly skilled surgeons. The donor’s body is treated with respect and dignity at all times. The donation of organs does not alter the physical shape and appearance of the person.

Will my funeral arrangements be delayed?
Being an organ donor does not delay funeral arrangements or prevent an open-casket funeral.

Will my religion support organ donation?
Most religions support, or do not oppose, organ donation and many leave it to the individual to make the choice. If you’re unsure of your religion’s position, discuss it with your spiritual adviser.

Will my body be used for research?
Organ donation is completely separate from donating your body for research. Your decision to be an organ donor does not permit the removal of organs for any other reason.

Can people buy a donor organ in Australia?
Trade in human organs and tissue is illegal in Australia. Anyone involved would face criminal charges.

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