Organ donation: Facts and stats

/ 4 February 2016


Organ donations save and enhance thousands of lives every year.

If you are yet to join the Organ Donor Register, we’ve provided some common FAQs, along with some facts and figures to help keep you informed.

How many people need new organs every year?

At any one time around 7,000 people in the UK are waiting for an organ transplant, but due to a shortage of organs up to 1000 of these will die waiting. Almost 200 of these are under the age of 18. 4,431 transplants were performed in the last year.

How many people are already on the Organ Donor Register?

In the UK, there are currently more than 21 million people on the Organ Donation Register, this is up from around 13 million in 2006.

However, the UK population currently stands at around 64 million, so there is still some way to go!

What can I donate?

Most organs can be transplanted, including kidneys, heart, liver, lungs, pancreas, small bowel and corneas. Your tissue can also be taken after you die.

While living, mothers can choose to donate placentas after giving birth through caesarean section, and in some cases bone from the hip can be donated following a hip operation. It is also possible for people to lead a healthy life after donating a kidney.

Won’t I be added to the register automatically?

If you live in Wales, from 1st December you will be automatically added to the Organ Donor Register unless you opt out. Elsewhere in the UK you need to manually add your details to the Register.

Why do more people need to sign up to be organ donors?

Three people die in the UK every day while waiting for a transplant due to damaged or not-properly-functioning organs, while many perfectly good organs go to waste when people die.

How do I sign up to be a donor?

The easiest way is to visit: and register your details.

It’s simple and only takes around two minutes to complete.

You can also call 0300 123 23 23, or text SAVE to 62323.

Alternatively, you are given the choice to join the Register when you apply for a driving licence, register at a GP surgery, register for a European Health Insurance card (EHIC) or apply for a Boots Advantage card.

Why is it important to share my decision with my family and friends?

It’s worth explaining what you want to happen when you die to those close to you. This will make sure that your choice to donate won’t come as a surprise to those grieving in the event of your death.

Are there any restrictions to becoming a donor?

Yes, but not many. There is no age limit to become a donor although under 18s will need consent from a parent. Most existing medical conditions will not prevent you from joining the Register, as your organs will be thoroughly inspected for suitability by a medical professional. The exceptions are Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, cancer that has spread in the last 12 months and HIV (although you may still be able to donate to someone who already has HIV).

It’s quick and easy to join the NHS Organ Donor Register. Visit or call 0300 123 23 23. Do share your donation decision with your family and friends.