How to have a discussion about organ and tissue donation with your family

One organ donor can save the lives of 8 people, while a tissue donor can improve and save the lives of more than 50 people.

It is vital that you have conversations with family members about organ and tissue donation but figuring out how to approach an often-sensitive issue isn’t always easy. This article will highlight how to talk to your family members about organ donation in a clear, calm and concise way, without straining relationships or stoking tensions. Recent legislation passed in Croatia and Serbia made all citizens potential organ donors by default. Although the law does not seek permission from family members of a deceased person prior to organ donation, in practice, the wishes of family members are respected and considered in the decision to donate. In Slovenia, all citizens retain the right to decide whether to donate, and they can formally confirm their decision by enrolling themselves in the national organ donor register. However, much like in Croatia and Serbia, family members of the deceased can object to organ donation. All three countries are among those where relatives are asked to consent to the donation of the deceased person’s organs. This can be highly stressful for family members, particularly if they are unaware of the deceased person’s wishes. For this reason, it is important to talk about your decisions with your family to alleviate and avoid emotional stress when the time comes, which has been proven as the main reason why many families object to organ donation.

When is a good time to start a family discussion?

Today! You can use everyday situations to start a discussion. These could include:

  • The next time you visit your family
  • Moving out of home
  • Purchasing life insurance or writing a will
  • Receiving a check-up from your GP
  • Reading positive messages about organ donation online or elsewhere and sharing them with your loved ones
  • Hearing about someone who has become a donor or recently had a transplant.
  • How to start the conversation?

Initiating a discussion about organ and tissue donation may be difficult for some people as it involves raising the issue of death, which is considered taboo in some countries – especially where young people are involved.

The following conversation starters may be useful

  • “I have just heard that my friend’s colleague life was saved thanks to an unknown organ donor. It seems like a good thing to do. I will check out some more and register to become a donor.“
  • “I’ve just read about organ donation and have decided to become an organ donor. I’d like to donate my organs one day to save other people’s lives.“
  • “I was getting a check-up from my GP and saw a brochure / poster about organ donation. I’ve asked for some advice on how to register to become an organ donor, and she explained the new law recently implemented. Our country is among those where relatives are asked to consent to the donation of the deceased person’s organs. I’d like you to know that I support organ donation and would like to save other people’s lives should I ever become an organ donor.“
  • “The other day I read some interesting data – only a small percentage of people who die in hospital do so under the specific circumstances required for organ donation. Currently around 14.000 people are on the waiting list in Eurotransplant member countries and their life depends on organ donors. I will research more online but I wish you to know that I want to donate my organs one day to save other people’s lives.“[2]
  • “I was at an event where several people who support organ donation spoke about it. It is an act of kindness that saves so many lives. I have decided to learn more about it and find out how to register to become an organ donor.“

Did you know?

The decision to become an organ donor is a personal one and an act of humanity and kindness.
Don’t just take our word for it – to make the right decision for yourself, you should be equipped withal the facts. On our web site you may find many pieces
of useful information, including the history of transplantation, regulatory practices, the functions of important organizations like Eurotransplant,
medical facts and the ways in which transplantation saves and improves other people’s lives.

DISCOVER the facts about organ and tissue donation

DISCUSS your decision with people close to you

For more information on regulations please visit:




Reference: legislation/

Australian government – Organ and Tissue Authority – OTA_Discussion Starters resources/multicultural-and-faith-communities/how-have-discussion-about-organ-and-tissue-donation / / files/E-opredelitev-navodila.pdf /zakon-o-presadjivanju-ljudskih-organa.html



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