Family Discussion Kit

Every Australian has the potential to save and transform lives by making the decision to become and organ and tissue donor.

This kit is a practical guide to assist in having an informed and memorable family discussion about organ and tissue donation.

Around 1500 people are on Australian organ transplant waiting lists. On average these people can wait between six months and four years.

There are many more Australians who are not currently on waiting lists and whose lives would be greatly improved through the benefit of organ and tissue transplantation.

Organ and tissue transplantation is a highly successful treatment that transforms the lives of individuals and their families. More than 30,000 Australians have benefited since transplantation first became a standard treatment option. Australia has a world class reputation for successful transplant outcomes.

Deciding and registering your donation decision about organ and tissue donation is a very positive act.

In deciding to become an organ and tissue donor, you are expressing your willingness to save and transform the lives of others through the gift of donation.

This is a decision that you need to share with your family and close friends.

They need to know your decision because, in the event of your death, they will be asked to confirm your donation decision before donation for transplantation can proceed.

Less than 1% of deaths in hospitals are in the particular circumstances where organ donation is possible. Family discussion and knowledge about each other’s donation decision is critical to ensure that every potential donor’s decision is upheld.

Families that know each other’s donation decisions are more likely to uphold them. It is rare for a family to decline the opportunity for donation if they know their loved one was willing to become an organ and tissue donor.

If you want your family to honour your decision, then they need to know. Discuss it today.

It is also important that you ask and know the donation decision of your family members so that, should the situation arise, you can uphold their decision.

We encourage every Australian to:

  • Discover the facts about organ and tissue donation
  • Register your donation decision on the Australian Organ Donor Register, and, most importantly
  • Discuss your donation decision with your loved ones.

The discussion

Why have the discussion?

Registering to be an organ and tissue donor is not enough. Even if you register your donation decision, your family will be asked to confirm your decision in the event of your death.

After you have discovered the facts about organ and tissue donation, and registered your donation decision on the Australian Organ Donor Register, it is important that you discuss your donation decision with your family and that you ask and know their donation decisions.

Starting the discussion

You can help your family and friends have – and remember – the discussion.

Consider using the DonateLife Family stories, Discussion questions and Myths resources in the kit as icebreakers and knowledge building tools for your discussion.

Everyday situations can also offer the ideal start to a conversation. Here are some suggested situations:

  • hearing about someone who has been a donor, needs a transplant or has had a transplant
  • watching donation and transplantation stories on TV or seeing a media article
  • seeing or hearing an ad on TV, radio or billboards
  • when children discuss the topic at school
  • before starting extensive travel or going overseas to work
  • the next time your family sits down together for a meal
  • at Christmas time or holiday periods when your family is together
  • at a family reunion or family celebration
  • making a will or advanced health directive
  • getting life insurance or income protection
  • leaving home for the first time as a young adult
  • celebrating an anniversary
  • having a significant birthday: 21, 30, 40, 50 or more
  • getting a check-up at the GP.

Once you have had a discussion with your family about each other’s donation decisions, these events can provide a good opportunity to repeat your decision to ensure they are remembered.

Who should discuss?

Everyone. Every family.

Everyone has their own reason for deciding whether to become an organ and tissue donor, and it is important that family, partners and friends understand those reasons.

It's important that your family remembers the discussion in the event that they are asked to confirm your decision. It is also important that you know each of your family member's decisions, as you may be the one who is asked.

What to discuss?

Your family may have their own questions and topics to discuss, but some topics could include:

  • each person's own reasons on whether they wish to become a donor
  • whether there is anything that each person would not want to donate and why
  • asking everyone their reasons for and against donating organs and tissues
  • discussing myths and misconceptions 
  • discussing the facts about organ and tissue donation 
  • sharing some personal stories about organ and tissue donation. Does anyone in your family know someone that has received a transplant? If so, encourage them to tell that story. There are two stories included in this kit and a variety of other stories available to read in the Book of Life.

There are many misconceptions about organ and tissue donation. Some people mistakenly believe their religion does not support the act of donation. Others wrongly believe they are not fit or healthy enough to be a donor. The facts about organ and tissue donation are available in the Discover section and can be used to discuss and dispel myths that come up during your conversation.

Remember the discussion

It is important to know your family’s donation decisions because in Australia the family is always asked to confirm the donation decision of the deceased before donation for transplantation can proceed. A family is able to know each other's decisions by having a memorable discussion.

After the discussion

Get involved and stay in touch

After you have discovered the facts about organ and tissue donation, made an informed decision and discussed this decision, there are other actions you can take. Stay in touch, get involved and help us continue to raise awareness. Here are some suggestions:

Become a Facebook fan: Add your comments and contribute to discussions. You can also indicate that you are a registered organ and tissue donor on your Facebook Timeline.

Follow us on Twitter.

Contact your local DonateLife agency to request materials to support you in hosting an awareness raising event. 

Discuss organ and tissue donation with extended family and friends. Encourage people to Discover the facts, Decide about becoming a donor and register your decision and, most importantly, Discuss this decision with family and friends.

Get involved with a local community organisation

Community organisations play a very important role within the organ and tissue donation and transplantation sector. They provide both essential awareness events to the Australian community and also act as advocates for the community, within the clinical sector and with government.

They represent and support donor families, transplant recipients and even families awaiting transplantation.


Share this page


the facts about organ and
tissue donation

  • Frequently asked questions
  • Understanding donation


and register on the Australian
Organ Donor Register

  • Register your decision


your donation decision with family and friends

  • Who needs to know?
  • How to start the discussion