The heart, pancreas, liver, kidneys and lungs can all be transplanted, as can heart valves and tissue from the bone, skin and eyes.
A serious illness does not necessarily stop you from donating. Even if dying is not on your horizon, it is still worth documenting your wishes regarding organ donation and what you want to happen with your body.
Many people incorrectly assume that the “organ donor” note on their driver’s licence means their intentions have been formally registered.
In fact, to record your formal consent (or objection) to donating organs, you will need to sign on to the Australian Organ Donor Register, through Medicare. You need to be over 18 and you can stipulate which organs or tissue you would be prepared to donate. Authorised medical staff can use this database to verify your wishes regarding donations.
Even if you have formally registered your consent to donating organs you should discuss your decision with your family since they may have an option to override your decision in the end.
Grieving family members may well be more sensitive than you expect about how your body is treated after death, so make sure they understand your feelings about organ donation.
Life, Hope & Reality was developed and written by Afaf Girgis, Claire Johnson, and Sylvie Lambert with funding from the NHMRC and Cancer Council NSW.Last updated 30 August 2015