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Donating your body or organs

Find out about donating your body for transplants or research to help other people after your death.

Some people want to donate parts of their body to be used for transplants or research. 

Donating your body is a very personal choice. Some people don’t want to do this, or don’t want to think about it when they are very ill. But if you do want to donate parts of your body for transplant or your whole body for research, talk to your medical team. You need to give permission for this before you die.

It is helpful to discuss it with your friends and family if you can.

Donating body parts for transplant

You might not be able to donate organs for transplant in case they are affected by the cancer. But you might be able to donate parts of your eyes (the cornea), or ligaments, tendons or heart valves. Your own doctor or specialist nurse can answer your questions.

Telling your relatives

It's best to let your next of kin know about your wishes, even though this could be an upsetting conversation. If you are allowed to donate some parts of your body, these need to be removed soon after your death. So it would help to prepare your loved ones for this possibility. You could include your wishes in your will.

Donating your body for research

You can choose to donate your body for research. The final decision to accept your body for research or education purposes might not take place until after your death. If your body is accepted your next of kin might then need to fill out some forms. These forms might ask questions, such as how long your body can be used for, which can be up to 3 years. 

You might want to discuss with your family whether your body should be returned to them for a private funeral. Or you could choose to have a memorial service instead. Most funeral directors will be able to help you with this.

Instead, the medical school receiving your body can arrange for a cremation, which your close family can attend.

Who to contact

As well as speaking to your medical team about donating your body, you can get advice from the Professor of Anatomy at the nearest medical school or from:

The Human Tissue Authority
151 Buckingham Palace Road
London
SW1W 9SZ
Telephone: 020 7269 1900

Email: enquiries@hta.gov.uk
Website: www.hta.gov.uk

Last reviewed: 
28 Feb 2017
  • Donating your body
    Human Tissue Authority. The regulator for human tissue and organs
    Accessed May, 2016

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