Organ Donation

If you would take an organ, why wouldn’t you donate an organ?

1 in 5 people who died whilst on the Transplant Waiting List last year (2017) were from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic  (BAME) background. 

Currently, there are over 1,800 people from BAME background waiting for an organ

901 recipients from BAME background received a transplant from a deceased donor last year (2017). 

Only 114 BAME patients donated their organs when they died last year

By donating all of your organs after you die, you could save up to nine lives!

Organ Donation: What You Need to Know

Organs and/or tissues will only be removed for transplantation after a person has died and death has been confirmed by doctors who are entirely independent of the transplant team. Confirmation is done in the same way for people who donate organs as for those who do not. If organ donation is a possibility, NHS Specialist Nurses for Organ Donation will check to see whether an individual is on the NHS Organ Donor Register, and the family of a potential donor will always be consulted. There are strict criteria in place in the United Kingdom to help those caring for the dying, by providing safe, timely and consistent criteria for the diagnosis of death. Organs are never removed until the patient’s death has been confirmed in line with these criteria.

What Happens After Removal? 

Organ and tissue donation doesn't prevent a donor from having an open-casket funeral. The body is clothed for burial, so there are no visible signs of organ or tissue donation. The operation site is covered with a white surgical dressing like any other abdominal surgery dressing. 


There is no minimum age. Parents and guardians can register their children, and children can register themselves. Children who are under 12 in Scotland and under 18 in the rest of the UK at the time of registration will require their parent or guardian’s agreement for donation to take place. Sadly, some children do die and the decision to donate has provided some comfort to whole families, knowing their child went on to help others. Children require lifesaving organ transplants and they can also be organ donors. Sometimes it is necessary to consider an organ’s size in the matching process, for example small children are more likely to require heart and lungs from child donors.

There is no maximum age for joining the register. The decision about whether some or all organs or tissue are suitable for transplant is always made by a medical specialist at the time of donation, taking into account your medical and social history.

Medical Background 

Having an illness or medical condition doesn’t necessarily prevent a person from becoming an organ or tissue donor. The decision about whether some or all organs or tissue are suitable for transplant is made by a medical specialist at the time of donation, taking into account your medical, travel and social history. 

Someone with current active cancer cannot become an organ donor. However, there are certain types of cancers that after three years of treatment, people can donate organs. It still may be possible to donate eyes and some tissue in these circumstances.

The decision about whether some or all organs or tissue are suitable for transplant is always made by a medical specialist at the time of donation, taking into account your medical and social history. 

Inform Your Next of Kin 

Should you die in circumstances that mean organ donation may be a possibility, medical specialists will discuss organ donation with your next of kin as part of the end of life care discussion. The medical team will consult the NHS Organ Donor Register to establish your donation decision before discussing it with your family. By telling your family you want to be an organ donor in the event of your death you can relieve them of the burden of having to make the decision at such a difficult time. So, tell them your decision, let them know you want to be an organ donor. We know that in most cases families will agree to donation if they know that was their loved one's decision. If the family, or those closest to the person who has died, object to the donation even when their loved one has given their explicit permission (either by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register or by carrying an organ donor card) or deemed consent applies, healthcare professionals will discuss the matter sensitively with the family. They will be encouraged to accept their loved one's decision and it will be made clear that they do not have the legal right to veto or overrule that decision. There may, nevertheless, be cases where it would be inappropriate for donation to go ahead if donation would cause distress to the family. 

How to Become a Donor

Join the NHS Donor Register, or
Call them on: 0300 123 23 23

Living Donor

You can choose to donate a kidney or part of your liver as a living organ donor.

South Asian Community

The South Asian community are  part of the Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups represent 11% of the UK population (ONS mid-2011 estimates). Even though Asian represent 5.1% of the UK population, Organ Donors from an Asian background makes only 2% of the total organ donors (2016-2017).  

At the end of the 2017/18 financial year, 35% of the total number of patients on the waiting list for a kidney transplant were BAME. The demand for kidney transplantation amongst the BAME community is far greater than that for White patients. This is believed to be attributable to a higher burden of diabetes and kidney disease associated with the BAME communities. Approximately, 28% of kidney transplants in 2017/18 were in BAME recipients. This demonstrates a gap between the need for transplantation (35% of the waiting list) and the number of transplants taking place for BAME patients. This explains the longer waiting time to kidney transplant for BAME patients (approx. 21⁄2 years, compared with 2 years for White patients). The longer waiting time for BAME patients could be due to the need to match kidney donors and recipients according to blood and tissue types. Blood and tissue types differ across ethnic groups and the fact that only 7% of deceased organ donors in the UK are from minority ethnic groups makes it very difficult to find suitable matching kidneys for BAME patients on the transplant list. For other organs there is a need to match blood groups, but less or no requirement to match tissue types and thus BAME patients can more readily be matched to suitable donors and the waiting times are not longer than for White patients. Transplant rates are also broadly in line with demand as reflected by the transplant waiting lists. 


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In Islam there are two schools of thought with regard to organ donation. The human body, whether living or dead, enjoys a special honour and is inviolable, and fundamentally, Islamic law emphasises the preservation of human life. The general rule that ‘necessities permit the prohibited’ (al-darurat tubih al-mahzurat), has been used to support human organ donation with regard to saving or significantly enhancing the life of another provided that the bene t outweighs the personal cost that has to be borne. 


The following are some verses which have been used to support organ donation: 

“Whosoever saves a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.” 

Holy Qur’an, chapter 5, vs. 32 

“Whosoever helps another will be granted help from Allah.” 

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) 

“If you happened to be ill and in need of a transplant, you certainly would wish that someone would help you by providing the needed organ.” 

Sheikh Dr MA Zaki Badawi, Principal, Muslim College, London 

An alternative view clearly states that: 

“The saving of life is not absolute, but subject to the amount of cost that has to be borne. Therefore, although the above quotation enjoins the saving of life this is not without restriction or caveats”. According to a similarly large number of Muslim scholars organ donation is not permitted. They consider that organ donation compromises the special honour accorded to man and this cannot be allowed whatever the cost. Scholars, such as the Islamic Fiqh Academy of India, allow live donations only.” 

Mufti Mohammed Zubair Butt, Muslim Council of Britain 

Therefore it is very clear that in Islam: 

“Organ donation is a very personal choice and one should consider seeking the opinion of a scholar of their choosing.” 

Mufti Mohammed Zubair Butt, Muslim Council of Britain 

That said, one of the fundamental purposes of Islamic law is the preservation of life. Allah greatly rewards those who save the life of others.


There are many references that support the concept of organ donation in Hindu scriptures.  Daan is the original word in Sanskrit for donation, meaning selfless giving.  In the list of the ten Niyamas (virtuous acts) Daan comes third.  

“Of all the things that it is possible to donate, to donate your own body is in infinitely more worthwhile.” 

The Manusmruti 

“In the joy of others lies our own.” 

His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, 

BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha 

Life after death is a strong belief of Hindus and is an ongoing process of rebirth. The law of Karma decides which way the soul will go in the next life. The Bhagavad Gita describes the mortal body and the immortal soul in a simple way like the relationship of clothes to a body: 

“Vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya navani grhnati naro ‘parani tatha sarirani vihaya jirnany anyani samyati navandi dehi.” 

Bhagavad Gita, chapter 2:22 

“As a person puts on new garments giving up the old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies giving up the old and useless ones.” 

Bhagavad Gita, chapter 2:22 

Scientific and medical treatises (Charaka and Sushruta Samhita) form an important part of the Vedas Sage Charaka deals with internal medicine while Sage Sushruta includes features of organ and limb transplants: 

“Organ donation is in keeping with Hindu beliefs as it can help to save the life of others.” 

The Late Mr Om Parkash Sharma MBE, 

President, National Council of Hindu Temples 

“I always carry my donor card with me. It says that my whole body can be used for organ donation and medical purposes after my death. I would like to encourage as many people as possible to do the same.” 

The Late Dr Bal Mukund Bhala, 

Coordinator Hindu International Medical Mission, Former President Hindu Council UK 

“I believe in organ donation. If my body can help someone else live a better quality of life after my soul has vacated it then it is good Seva.” 

The Late Mr Arjan Vekaria JP, 

Former President Hindu Forum of Britain 


The Sikh philosophy and teachings place great emphasis on the importance of giving and putting others before oneself: 

“Where self exists, there is no God. Where God exists, there is no self.” 

Guru Nanak (founder of Sikh faith, and first of ten Gurus), Guru Granth Sahib 

(Sikh Holy Scripture) 

Sikh Gurus devoted their lives for the bene t of humanity and some even sacrificed their lives looking after the welfare of others. The Guru Granth Sahib says: 

“Within this world take the opportunity for sel ess service to others; then in divine abode we get the chance to be.” 

“The Eternal will embrace you”. 

Seva or selfess service is at the core of being a Sikh: to give without seeking reward or recognition and know that all seva is known to and appreciated by the Eternal. Seva can also be the donation of one’s organ to another. There are no taboos attached to organ donation in Sikhi, nor is there a requirement that a body should have all its organs intact at or after death. According to Sikhi the soul migrates in a perpetual cycle of rebirth but the physical body is only a vessal in its long journey, left behind each time and dissolved into the elements, as the Guru Granth Sahib says in Asaa Mahala 5: 

“That time, which the mortal does not wish for, eventually comes. Without the Eternal’s order the understanding of mortality is never understood. The body is consumed by water, re and earth. But the soul is neither young nor old, O human, thus it is the soul and not the body which continues its journey.” 

“The Sikh religion teaches that life continues after death in the soul, and not the physical body. The last act of giving and helping others through organ donation is both consistent with and in the spirit of Sikh teachings.” 

Lord Singh of Wimbledon CBE, Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations, UK (endorsed by Sikh Authorities in Amritsar, Punjab).

 The Sikh faith stresses the importance of performing noble deeds. There are many examples of selfess giving and sacrice in Sikh teachings by the ten Gurus and other Sikhs: 

“Guru Har Krishen, our eighth Guru, gave his life helping sufferers during a smallpox epidemic. It is entirely consistent with his spirit of service that we consider donating organs after death to give life and hope to others... In my family we all carry donor cards and would encourage all Sikhs to do so.” 

Lord Singh of Wimbledon CBE, Director of the Network of Sikh Organisations, UK 

Donating one’s organ to another so that the person may live is one of the greatest gifts and ultimate seva to human kind and hence Satguru says: 

“Through selfless service, eternal peace is obtained. The Gurumukhi is absorbed in intuitive peace.” 

Guru Granth Sahib says: 

“Donation without reward is one of the characteristics of a Guru’s Sikhs. The life of Gurumukhi is useful because by their natural temperament they are donors. And why not donate an organ so another can live?” 

Dr Jasdev Rai, British Sikh Consultative Forum (BSCF) The Guru Granth further says: 

“Through virtuous deeds, the dead establish a bond with the living.”