Healthy living

Becoming an organ and tissue donor

Australia's transplant rates are some of the best in the world, although this cannot happen without donors and their families.

When families find out their relative was on the organ donor register, 90% of families consent to organ and tissue donation.

Read more about why you should become a donor, the different types of donation and how to register.

Why should I become an organ donor?

In 2016, a record 1,713 Australians received a life-saving transplant thanks to the generosity of 503 deceased and 267 living organ donors and their families. 

A further 9,000 Australians benefited from tissue donation. Although this may seem like a lot of people, with around 1,400 Australians currently on transplant waiting lists, and a further 12,000 people on dialysis, we need to optimise every donation opportunity to save more lives.

Australia still needs people of all ages and backgrounds to become potential donors.

What are the different types of donation?

There are 2 types of donation:

  • Deceased Organ and Tissue Donation – when someone chooses to become an organ or tissue donor after their death.
  • Living Organ Donation (external site) – when someone donates a kidney or part of their liver to another person while they are still alive.
  • Living Tissue Donation – Patients undergoing hip replacement surgery can also choose to donate the ball part of their hip joint (femoral head), which is removed and otherwise discarded as a routine part of the procedure.
    Plus Life (Perth Bone and Tissue Bank) manage this process. For further information, call (08) 6144 3500, email Plus Life or visit the Plus Life website (external site).
Who can become a donor?

Almost everyone can become an organ and tissue donor.

The governing factors are where and how a donor dies (if a deceased donor) and the condition of their organs and tissues.

Living donors who choose to donate a kidney or part of their liver are generally family members or close friends of the recipient. The operation will only proceed if strict medical and legal criteria have been met.

While your age and medical history will be considered, you shouldn't assume you are too young, too old or not healthy enough to become a donor.

Only 1 per cent of people who die in hospital can become organ donors, which is why Australians of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to become potential donors.

How can I become a donor?

If you are 16 years of age or older and want to become a donor after death you can join the Australian Organ Donor Register (Donor Register) (external link) or call the Australian Organ and Tissue Authority on 02 6198 9800.

Until 2004 Western Australians were able to register their wish to be an organ and tissue donor on their driver’s licence. Registration is now only possible through the Donor Register. You have a choice of which organs and tissues you want to donate.

To find out your current status on the Donor Register, call Medicare Australia on 1800 777 203 or visit your local Medicare office.

To register for organ and tissue donation visit DonateLife (external site) or call 1800 777 203 to register over the phone or request for a registration to be posted.

If you choose to register, remember to tell your family. After your death, your family will make the final decision about whether to donate your organs or tissues.

If you are a family member or close friend of someone needing a transplant and are interested in donating a kidney or part of your liver, speak to your health professional. For further information visit the DonateLife (external website).

The AKX Programme (external website) – Australian Kidney Exchange programme  helps patients seeking a kidney transplant, whose potential living donor is unsuitable for them due to blood group and/or tissue incompatibility.

Who manages organ and tissue donations after death in Western Australia

DonateLife Western Australia (external link) is part of the Department of Health WA (North Metropolitan Area Health Service). It coordinates all organ and tissue donor activities across Western Australia.

DonateLife WA works with medical specialists and nurses across Western Australia to provide professional donation services and encourage best practice to increase donation rates.

DonateLife WA aims to raise awareness about organ and tissue donation, encourage discussion about donation, offer compassionate support to donor families and manage effective services in organ and tissue donation.

More information

For further queries or to organise a presentation on the subject at your workplace, sporting or social club, contact DonateLife WA by email or call 9222 0222.


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This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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