How to Have a Conversation About Organ & Tissue Donation

It doesn’t matter how you begin to talk about organ and tissue donation with your family and loved ones, it’s just important that you share your views with them.

Having the conversation can be difficult and emotive but here are some tips that might make it easier. 

Why talking to your family about donation is important

If you die in circumstances in which you can donate, specialist nurses will look at the NHS Organ Donation Register to see if you had recorded a donation decision.

They will then share this information with your family and friends and will check with them if this was your latest view. If you haven’t recorded a decision then under the opt out system it will be assumed that you give your permission to donate, but your family will be asked if you had any objection to donation. This is to ensure donation does not proceed if you would not have wanted it to.

That’s why it's important to let your loved ones know your views on donation so they can honour your decision.

They can also make sure any particular needs you have in line with your faith or beliefs are taken into consideration.

Picking a good time 

You can use every everyday situations to start a discussion about organ and tissue donation. For example:

  • During a meal with your family
  • Leaving home for the first time
  • Getting a check-up by your GP

The most important thing, is that you're sharing your wishes with them clearly and asking that they respect these if they need to confirm your decision at any point.

Pick a starting off point

You can start the conversation off by talking about the information you’ve seen on TV, in newspapers, or on social media that’s made you think about organ and tissue donation.

It's possible that members of your family may either want to opt-out of donation when the law changes in Scotland, or are already registered donors. You can discuss the new law change and ask them what they think about it or what their decision is.

Once you’ve got the conversation going...

Here are some points to consider when you chat with your family.

Explain why you’ve made your decision

Explaining why you’ve decided to be a donor, or opt-out of being a donor, is a good way to let your loved ones know your decision.

Make sure your family know the facts

Some people might not know much about the organ and tissue donation system in Scotland, or organ and tissue donation at all - and that's ok.

Pointing people in the right direction to find more information will help ensure everyone is on the same page and can make fully informed decisions.

You can find lots of information about organ and tissue donation in Scotland on the Organ Donation Scotland website.

Visit Young Scot's Organ & Tissue Donation information pages.