If the death occurred in a hospital, the staff may ask for your permission to use the organs for transplant purposes. With current advances in medical science, it is now possible to use all major organs for transplantation.
Consent will always be sought before removal.
To guarantee success in transplantation, organs must be removed very soon after death. Unfortunately hospital staff will have to consult you on this in the very early stages of bereavement.
When organ removal takes place, the dignity and respect of the deceased is maintained at all times and will not delay the funeral in any way.
If the death occurred at home then normally the organs cannot be used except for the cornea (the front part of the outer shell of the eyeball), and this must be done as soon as possible.
The British Organ Donor Society has a website that covers topics on organ donation and transplantation, both in the UK and worldwide.
You can also find out about and register to be an organ donor on the NHS organ donation website.
Donating a body to medical science
If the body is to be used for teaching purposes then the deceased will normally have made prior arrangements with a medical school.
In this case there will normally be a written statement of this intention on the deceased's papers.
Before the body can be accepted there are certain factors that will be considered by the medical school, such as:
- Place of death
- Cause of death
- Condition of the body at the time of death
- Level of demand by the medical school.
If a body has been subject to a postmortem, it will be refused.
Those that are used, can be kept for up to three years but are then disposed of by cremation or burial in a special service at the cost of the medical school.
Contact the London Anatomy Office on 020 8725 5196 for more information.