About organ and tissue donation

Donating organs and tissue can transform lives. Learn about organ and tissue donation in Australia, why it’s important, how to register your decision on being a donor and where to get more information.

What organ and tissue donation is

Organ donation occurs when organs are removed from a donor and transplanted into someone who is very ill or dying from organ failure.

It can involve the:

  • kidneys
  • lungs
  • heart
  • liver
  • large intestine
  • pancreas.

Tissue donation is where tissue is removed from a donor and transplanted into another person. Types of tissue can include:

  • heart valves
  • heart tissue
  • blood veins
  • bone
  • skin
  • ligaments
  • tendons
  • parts of the eye
  • pancreas tissue
  • amniotic tissue.

To make a difference, you can register your decision to be an organ and tissue donor after you die.  In some circumstances, it may be possible to become a living donor.

Why organ and tissue donation matters

Organ and tissue donation saves and transforms lives.

Right now, about 1,600 people are on the waitlist for a transplant. Wait times can be between 6 months and 4 years.

Even though our rates have improved over the years, we need more people to register as donors to make transplants more accessible.

Who organ and tissue donation affects

Almost everyone can help others through organ and tissue donation. Don’t assume you’re too young, old or unhealthy to donate.

The decision to donate organs and tissue is an act of extraordinary generosity. Donation helps people of all ages who are very ill or dying because an organ is failing.

They may be people who have certain serious conditions such as chronic kidney disease, or need a tissue transplant because of things like:

  • surgery, where bones need replacing
  • a failing cornea, affecting their sight
  • severe burns requiring skin grafts.
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