Becoming an organ and tissue donor

By  Donate Life     |    Updated: 24th June, 2020    |    5 min read

Did you know?

  • Although more young people are discussing organ and tissue donation, one in two young people don’t know their family members’ donation wishes.
  • 40% of young people are unaware that one day they could be asked to confirm the donation wishes of a family member, should the situation arise.

Explore this factsheet and videos to find out more about making your decision about becoming an organ donor.

Decided about becoming an organ and tissue donor?

Everyone has their own reasons for deciding whether to become an organ and tissue donor. It is important that the people close to you understand those reasons. Your family need to know your decision because they will be asked to give consent.

Families that know each other’s donation decisions are more likely to uphold them. Families that do not know the wishes of the deceased are much less likely to agree to donation.

You may think you are too old or unhealthy to be a donor. Or that your religion doesn’t support organ and tissue donation. These are common myths and misconceptions.

Discover the facts about organ and tissue donation. This will help you make an informed decision about whether to become an organ and tissue donor. You can register your decision online at https://donatelife.gov.au/register-donor-today , this page also gives you a number of other ways to register.

You still need to discuss your decision with your family.

When is a good time to start a family discussion?

Today. You can use every day situations to start a discussion on important life issues, including what to do with your organs and tissues when you die. This might include:

  • the next time your family sits down together for a meal
  • making a will or advanced health directive
  • getting life insurance or income protection
  • leaving home for the first time as a young adult
  • getting or renewing your driver’s licence
  • celebrating an anniversary with your partner
  • having a significant birthday: 21, 30, 40, 50 or more
  • getting a check-up at the GP
  • 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
  • seeing a traumatic event in the news
  • after a friend or family member dies
  • when children discuss the topic at school.
If you have already had a discussion with your family about your wishes, these events provide a good opportunity to repeat your decision to ensure they are remembered.

Why does my family need to know my decision?

As part of the national reform package for organ and tissue donation, the family of every potential donor will be asked to give their consent to donation if the situation arises. The request will be made by trained health professionals.
Even if you have registered your wish to be a donor, your family will still be asked to give consent.
The most important thing people want to know in order to make a decision about a family member becoming a donor is the wishes of the deceased.
Many Australians have not informed their family of their donation decision. Many family members do not confidently know each other’s donation decision. Many people have not discussed their donation decision with family members in the past 12 months. Many cannot remember.

It’s not my family’s business

Yes it is. Your family will be asked to confirm your wishes to become a donor when you die.

I’ll think about it later

Most people who become donors die suddenly and unexpectedly.

I don’t have time. I’m too busy

It does not take long to register your decision on the Australian Organ Donor Register and to have a discussion with your family.

My family won’t understand

Organ and tissue donation is a sensitive subject. The decision to become a donor is a personal and important one. To make the right decision for yourself, you need to have the facts so that your decision is informed. Your family might also need time to discover the facts and make their own decisions.
This resource aims to assist your family to have an informed, memorable discussion about each other’s donation decisions.

Did you know…?

  • Australia has a world class reputation for successful transplant outcomes.
  • In 2012, 354 organ donors gave 1,052 transplant recipients a new chance in life.
  • Around 1600 people are on Australian organ transplant waiting lists at any one time.
  • On average, people on the transplant list must wait between six months and four years.
  • In 2012, the Australian population had 15.6 deceased donors per million people.
  • In Australia, less than 60% of families of potential donors give consent for organ donation to proceed.
  • The most important thing that helps a family’s decision is their knowing the wishes of their loved one.
If you want to donate life, it is important to discuss it today

Family discussion

Almost half of all Australians don’t realise that their family will be asked to confirm their wishes about possible organ and tissue donation.
You can help your family and friends have (and remember) the discussion.
Visit donatelife.gov.au for suggestions on how to start that discussion.


the facts about organ and tissue donation


about becoming a donor


 your decision with the people close to you
For more information please visit www.donatelife.gov.au

Also check the related topics:  

About organ donation

Factsheet provided by Donate Life


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