Organ and tissue donation is when a person has made their wishes known, or their family agrees for the removal of one or more of their organs or tissues to be transplanted into someone else to either save or improve their quality of life.
Most organs are donated by people who die while on a ventilator in an Intensive Care Unit, generally as a result of a major accident, a brain haemorrhage or stroke. Today fewer people die under these circumstances and that number is further reduced because of welcomed improvements in road safety and advances in medical treatment.
A person can donate a number of different organs, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and pancreas. They can also donate certain body tissues, such as corneas, skin, heart valves and bone.
Tissue donation may occur up to 24 hours after death. Many more people are suitable for tissue donation than organ donation.
While most donations occur after a person has died; it is also possible to become a living donor. A relative or friend can donate one of their kidneys or partial liver to another in need.