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Organ and tissue donation

Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital are supportive of organ and tissue donation. The Critical Care Unit participates in the NHS Blood and Transplant and tissue programme.

Organ Donation is the gift of an organ to help someone who needs a transplant. Kidneys, heart, liver, lungs, pancreas and small bowel can all be transplanted. If organ donation is possible this will be offered as a choice to the family when it is clear their relative is dying or has died. It needs to be arranged by a Specialist Nurse in organ donation and must take place immediately after a person has died.

NHS Blood and Transplant: 

What is organ donation?

Organ donation is giving an organ to help someone who needs a transplant.

Transplants can save or greatly enhance the lives of other people. But this relies on donors and their families agreeing to donate their organ.

Types of donation

There are different ways to donate and includes

  • Brain stem death - This is where a person no longer has activity in their brain stem due to a severe brain injury. They have permanently lost the potential for consciousness and the capacity to breathe. This may happen even when a ventilator is keeping the person's heart beating and oxygen is circulated through their blood.
  • Circulatory death - Is the irreversible loss of function of the heart and lungs after a cardiac arrest from which the patient cannot or should not be resuscitated. It can also be the planned withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment from a patient within the Intensive Care Unit .


Organs from a donor can only be taken with their consent or with their family’s consent after they die. You can give consent by:

  • joining the NHS Organ Donor Register, or
  • telling a relative or close friend about your decision to donate

Tissue Donation

Tissue donation can improve the lives of many people through tissue grafts. Most people who are unable to donate their organs when they die can usually be tissue donors. This is because many of the restrictions that apply to organ donation do not apply to tissue donation.

What is tissue donation?

The majority of those who join the NHS Organ Donor Register choose to donate all their organs. However, tissue can also be donated and includes skin, bone, tendons, eyes, heart valves and arteries which can be donated after death.

Please note that tissue donation and being a donor does not delay funeral arrangements.


  • The cornea is used to help restore sight to people with cornea problems caused by eye disease, injury, or birth defects. Disease or injury can make the cornea cloudy or distorted, causing vision loss.

Heart valve

  • Heart valves can be transplanted to save the lives of children born with heart defects and adults with damaged heart valves.


  • Donated skin can be used as a natural dressing to help treat people with serious burns by stopping infections and to reduce scarring and reduce pain.


  • Donated bone can be used for people receiving artificial joint replacements. It can also replace bone that has been removed due to illness or injury and help reduce pain and improve mobility.


  • Tendons attach bones and muscles to each other and donated tendons can be used to help rebuild damaged joints.


Tissue from a donor can only be used with their consent or with their family’s consent after they die. To become a tissue donor:

  • join the NHS Organ Donor Register
  • tell a relative or close friend about your decision to donate

About Tissue Donation

Tissues do not require the same conditions as organs to survive, so tissue donation is possible after the heart and lungs have stopped working.

Tissues for donation must be removed within 12 to 24 hours after a person dies.