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Organ donation

RCN Survey on consent for organ and tissue donation after death

Help us review our RCN position

We've launched a survey to gather your views on consent for organ and tissue donation after death from across the UK.

Your experiences and opinions will help inform the first review of the RCN’s position on consent since 2009. At that time the RCN supported the opt-in systems that were operating across the UK at that time.
The review is partly in response to forthcoming proposals to change the laws in England and Scotland, and also to help us understand the experiences of members in Wales where the law on consent changed in 2015.
Your views are important for the RCN to hear, regardless of how regularly you deal with these issues in your day-to-day work.
The survey will be completely anonymous and will take no more than 10 minutes to complete.
It is vital that we hear from as many members as possible so that your views can be reflected as we review our position.

On completion of the survey you will be given the opportunity to print your response. You might like to use this to support a reflective account for your revalidation.

Complete the survey

For any questions about this survey, please contact:

What is organ and tissue donation?

“Organ donation transplants healthy organs and tissues from one person into another.” Organ Donation Wales.

 Many people who are waiting for a transplant are seriously ill and are reliant on donations to survive.

 Most donations take place after either brain-stem or circulatory death. Some donations, such as donating a kidney, can also be made by living donors. Donations after death require a particular form of consent to be in place. This is the focus of the RCN survey. 

Organs that can be donated after death are: kidneys, heart, liver, lungs, pancreas and the small bowel. Tissues that can be donated after death include: corneas, skin, bone, tendons, cartilage and heart valves.  Because organs must be transplanted so soon after death, in reality only people who die in hospital can be considered as organ donors. Unlike organs, tissues can be donated up to 48 hours after death.

What are the different systems of consent?

In England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, there is currently an opt-in system in place for organ and tissue donation after death. This means that those who have expressed a wish to donate organ and tissues after death will be considered for donation. If someone has not expressed a wish to donate during their lifetime, their family would normally be approached to make a decision on their behalf. 

This is different to an opt-out system where, often with certain exceptions, everyone will be deemed to have given consent to donate their organs and tissue after death unless they have chosen to opt-out during their lifetime. Wales has adopted an opt-out system and there are now proposals being considered in both England and Scotland to move to an opt-out system.