Organ Donation – how to have the difficult conversation

“Please discuss organ donation with your loved ones and leave them certain” – that’s the plea from a leading clinical expert on organ donation to the local population.

There is no doubt about it, discussing your personal decision about organ donation is not an easy conversation.

As Organ Donation Week (Monday 26 September – Sunday 2 October) approaches, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust’s organ donation clinical lead is offering some advice on how to raise the issue with your loved ones.

Dr. Tara Mane with a Leave Them Certain sign

Dr. Tara Mane said: “It’s vital that every adult lets their loved ones know about their personal decision about organ donation.

“Even though the law now presumes consent that everyone is on the organ donor register, unless they opt out, permission from your next of kin is still required.

“While there may never be a good time to consider donation, there is definitely a worst time and that is in a hospital’s relatives’ room, dealing with the shock of a death and then being asked about organ donation.

“Should that day come, your relatives need to know if you want to be an organ donor.”


Tara’s advice for discussing organ donation:

• Be aware of the facts – the organ donation website has all the information you need.
• If you feel awkward raising it, look for an opportunity based on something you have seen on the news or social media as a way to raise the subject.
• Relax – don’t rush this important conversation.
• Start gently – no one who loves you wants to have this conversation and it’s difficult for them as well.
• Explain how you feel – ask your loved one to think ‘what if I needed an organ?’
• Speak from the heart!
• Involve the wider family.
• Consider seeking guidance – some people find it helpful to speak with a faith leader or trusted advisor.
• Make the time for the conversation, take a breath and go for it.
• Register your decision on the organ donation website:

Tara continued: “By taking a little time now to have this conversation, you will be sparing those you love from one more worry as they deal the worst time of their life.

“Please discuss organ donation with your loved ones and leave them certain.”

To find out more and register your decision, visit the NHS Organ Donor Register at and share your decision with your family. Users of the NHS app, can also use this to record, check or amend their details or decision.

Organ Donation Week Stats

The law around organ donation changed in England in May 2020 and all adults are now considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die, unless they record a decision not to donate, are in one of the excluded groups or have told their family that they don’t want to donate.
However, relatives will still always be consulted before organ donation goes ahead and each year, opportunities for transplants are missed because families aren’t sure what to do.


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