Organ and tissue donation can save and transform the lives of people who, in many cases, are seriously ill or dying.
Here are some of the people who have been helped.
You can also read about the experiences of more people in Donation stories.
People with kidney disease
People with severe kidney failure are put on dialysis and many need a kidney transplant. The 2 kidneys can be transplanted into one person or be separately transplanted into 2 people. Living donation of a kidney is also possible.
People with heart failure
Some people with heart failure, infections or defects need a heart transplant to survive.
Heart valves can also be donated. These are mainly used to repair genetic defects in young children and babies, or to replace diseased heart valves in adults.
People with lung disease
Lung transplants may be needed by people whose lungs cannot provide enough oxygen to their bodies, such as people with cystic fibrosis or emphysema.
We have 2 lungs. Both can be transplanted into one person or separated and transplanted into 2 people.
Even if you have smoked, your lungs may still be be able to be transplanted.
People with liver disease
People with liver disease, hepatitis B or C, or congenital liver defects might need a liver transplant to stay alive.
The liver is unique because it can regrow. An adult liver can go to another adult or can be made smaller and transplanted into a child, where it will grow as they grow. The liver can also be divided and transplanted into 2 people. Although very rare, a living person can donate part of their liver to another person. This is usually a parent to their child.
People with type 1 diabetes
Some people with type 1 diabetes need a donated pancreas to live and can also need a kidney transplant. The pancreas is often transplanted with a kidney from the same donor into the one person.
If it’s not possible to transplant the whole pancreas, the insulin-producing islet cells of the pancreas can be transplanted separately, as a treatment for diabetes.
People who are going blind or losing eyesight
Corneal transplants can restore sight to people who are partially or completely blind due to corneal damage, injury or cancer.
The sclera is the white part that surrounds the eye. Scleral grafts help people who face blindness through injury or cancer.
People who need bone tissue
Bone tissue also includes tendons, such as the achilles tendon, ligaments and meniscus.
Donated bone tissue can be grafted to help people who have lost bone through cancer or other disease or accidents.
Bone tissue can heal people suffering from fractures. It can strengthen hip and knee joint replacements, repair curvatures of the spine (scoliosis) in children and teenagers, and repair teeth.
You can also donate bone while you are alive. If you are having a total hip replacement you can agree to donate your femoral head, which can be used for bone grafts.
Tendons and ligament donations are used to replace those torn or irreparably damaged, often through sport injuries. Many professional sports people have been able to return to their sport due to tendon and ligament transplants.
People who need skin grafts
Skin grafts help people whose skin has been damaged by infection, severe burns and other trauma.
When skin is donated, only a thin layer is taken. This layer is like the skin that peels in sunburn. It is usually taken from the person’s back and the back of their legs.