Organ and Tissue Authority

2020 eye and tissue donation and transplantation

Overlap of deceased organ, eye and tissue donors
Deceased organ, eye and tissue donors
organ donors
tissue donors
eye donors
  • Each year the lives of thousands of Australians are saved and transformed through the transplantation of donated tissues, including eye tissue.
  • The tissues that can be transplanted include heart valves and other heart tissue, bone, tendons, ligaments, skin and parts of the eye such as the cornea and sclera.
  • Unlike organs, many more people can become eye and tissue donors as these can be donated following death outside of hospital, and tissue can be stored for longer periods of time.
  • Tissue banks across Australia collect tissue from deceased and living donors, process and store these tissues and then distribute them to clinicians for transplantation and other surgical uses.
  • The eye and tissue sector experienced an impact on donation and transplantation activity in 2020, paticularly early in the year as a result of the emergence of COVID-19.
  • Of the 463 deceased organ donors, 254 also donated eye and/or other tissue.

Deceased eye and tissue donors by jurisdiction

Eye donation and transplantation

Deceased eye donors

  • In 2020 there were 1,318 deceased eye donors. This is a 13% decrease in the number of eye donors compared with 2019 (1,508).

Corneal transplants

  • There were 2,277 corneal transplants in 2020, a 6% decrease compared with 2019 (2,414).
  • Since 2009, more than 23,500 Australians have received a corneal transplant.
Tissue donation and transplantation In 2020


tissue donors comprised


living tissue donors (90%)


deceased tissue donors (10%)

  • This is a 22% decrease compared with 2019 (3,857).
  • The 290 deceased tissue donors is 7% fewer than 2019 (312).
  • National tissue donation and transplantation data was first reported in 2013.

Deceased tissue donations

  • The 290 deceased tissue donors in 2020 resulted in 442 tissue donations. This represents a 16% decrease in tissue donations compared with 2019 (524).
  • There were 167 musculoskeletal, 129 cardiovascular, 140 skin and 6 pancreas islets deceased tissue donations

Living tissue donations

  • The 2,728 living tissue donors in 2020 resulted in 2,797 living tissue donations, predominantly from patients undergoing joint replacement surgery. The number of living tissue donations is 23% fewer than 2019 (3,616).

Tissue transplant recipients

Note: Amnion transplants commenced in 2019.
  • In 2020 there were 10,817 reported tissue transplant recipients from both living and deceased donors. This is a 3% increase over 2019 (10,453).
  • The tissue transplant recipients included 10,375 recipients of musculoskeletal tissue, 213 recipients of cardiovascular tissue, 96 recipients of skin tissue, six recipients of pancreas islets and 127 recipients of amnion tissue.
  • While the number of tissue donations decreased in 2020 due to COVID-19 impacts, the overall number of tissue transplant recipients increased. This can be partially explained by the fact that donated tissue can be stored and used at a later stage, with little impact resulting from disruptions to donation activity as a result of the emergence of COVID-19.

Graphic of native plants

Join us online Saturday, 5 June 3pm for the DonateLife National Service of Remembrance