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As a firm specialising in areas that involve end-of-life decision-making, we are often asked about organ donation. In this article we aim to answer questions that you, or a family member, may have about donation.

What is organ and tissue donation?

Organs and/or tissues are removed from a donor and transplanted into someone who needs them. Such people are mostly very ill or dying from organ failure. Many of the illnesses that donor recipients face are due to hereditary conditions rather than lifestyle factors.

Which organs and tissues can be donated?

Your heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, heart valves and pericardium, corneal and eye tissue, bone and related musculoskeletal tissue and skin tissue may be made available for donation.

We understand that you and your family can opt for partial donations if a full donation is not possible or desired. On the Australian Organ Donation Register (Donate Life) you can indicate specifically which organs and tissues you wish to donate.

Are there minimum or maximum ages for donating?

Australians of all ages can donate – there is no minimum or maximum age. You can register your intent to become an organ donor from the age of 16, though parents can approve donations for children under this age.

Are there specific health requirements donors must comply with?

While some diseases may prevent someone from donating, there are no hard and fast rules – all prospective donations are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Can I record my decision about organ donation in my Will?

Your Will is not the best place to specify that you wish to donate your organs. Whilst it is an important document that will be vital to managing your affairs after your passing, there is no guarantee that it will be accessed time to influence any decision regarding organ donation.

In addition to registering your choice with Donate Life, we suggest you indicate your wishes about organ donation in your Enduring Power of Attorney.

What if I don’t want to donate any or all my organs and tissues?

You can register your decision not to donate, either some or all of your organs and tissues, on the Donate Life Register.

Further Information

You can obtain further information on organ donation at Donate Life.

If you have any questions regarding end-of-life care, get in contact with Brian Tetlow or Emma Bragg on (02) 6140 3263 or email [email protected].

Resources from Donate Life were used extensively to inform this article.