How organ donors save lives

How organ donors save lives
Thousands of lives are saved or improved every year thanks to organ donation, but there are still more than 7,000 people awaiting transplants in the UK.

Organ Donation Week will take place from 18th-24th September this year, to help raise awareness of the importance of registering as an organ donor. This year’s campaign is ‘Leave them certain’, to encourage everyone to discuss organ donation with their loved ones, so they are clear about your wishes, and that you know theirs. The aim of the campaign is to get 25,000 more people to register to become organ donors. If you want to show your support for Organ Donation Week, you can do so by wearing pink from 18th-24th September.

Here, we explain what organ donation involves, and the massive impact it can have on people’s lives.

What is organ donation?

Nearly 4,600 transplants took place in 2022/23, according to the NHS, all thanks to donors. Although most organs and tissues are donated from people who have died, it is also possible to make living donations, whereby you donate an organ such as a kidney or part of your liver, while you are still alive.

The law around organ donation changed in May 2020. You previously needed to opt in to be an organ donor, but it is now considered that you agree to become an organ donor when you die if you’re over 18 and haven’t opted out. These laws don’t apply to those in an excluded group, for example, children aged under 18 or those who lack the mental capacity to understand these arrangements.

You can record whether you want to be an organ donor on the NHS Organ Donor Register at NHS Organ Donation. If no decision is shown on the Register, your family will be asked if they know whether you wanted to be a donor, which is why it’s so crucial to inform them of your wishes. According to the NHS, every year hundreds of opportunities for transplants are missed because families aren’t sure what to do, or are divided over what they think you would have wanted.

The impact of organ donation

Organ donation not only saves lives but also improves the quality of life immeasurably for those needing a transplant. It can also have a positive impact on those whose loved ones donate organs, helping them deal with their loss by knowing that they are helping others.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has long recognised the effect needing a transplant can have on a person and for this reason they list ‘major organ transplant’ as a definition that may be included as part of critical illness cover. This includes bone marrow, heart, kidney, liver, lung, or pancreas transplants, or inclusion on an official UK waiting list for such a procedure.

Consequently, most insurers cover major organ transplants as standard in their critical illness policies, giving policyholders valuable peace of mind that they don’t have to worry about their finances if they need a transplant. Some providers go further, with LV= for example, listing major organ transplant as eligible condition for their Enhanced Payment benefit – where they pay double the amount of cover up to a maximum £200,000.

You can find more information on critical illness cover and other types of personal protection here, or if you’d contact like to know more about organ donations, visit
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