When patients die in hospital the option of donation should be considered in all cases where donation is a possibility. If this does not occur it can result in individuals’ wishes not being identified and respected. It can potentially add to the distress of bereaved families who are denied the option of donation and ultimately effecting the positive benefit in lives saved or lives enhanced through transplantation.

This policy provides a framework for the identification of potential donors, approaching potential donors’ families, donor management and organ retrieval. The policy is written in line with the NICE Clinical Guideline 135. The guideline highlights the need for more effective identification and referral of potential organ donors and a more informed, considered and timely approach to consent for donation. This should be based primarily on identifying the wishes of the individual whenever known and however recorded. The circumstances surrounding each referral will vary; in all cases the Specialist Nurse in Organ Donation (SNOD) will be available for advice and support.

Around the time of death, donation may not come automatically to the minds of potential donor families. It is the responsibility of the staff caring for the patient and family to consider organ donation, and to refer all potential cases to the on call SNOD.

Organs can be donated from patients who have a diagnosis of Death by Neurological Criteria and with appropriate preparation some organs can be retrieved from patients shortly after their heart stops beating or Donation after Circulatory Death. It is also possible to retrieve Tissue (e.g. Corneas, Skin, Bone, Tendons and Heart Valves) for some time after death. For clarity each of the above areas will be considered separately in this document.


Policy Details

Download: PDF version
Compiled by: Dr Pardeep Gill, Brooke Timms, Laura Champion, Judith Moore
Ratified by: Organ Donation Committee
Date Ratified: June 2024
Date Issued: July 2024
Review Date: June 2027
Target Audience: All Clinical Staff
Contact name: Dr Pardeep Gill


See also:

  • Tissue Donation Policy
  • Last Offices Policy
  • End of Life Care Policy


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