Donating your organs and body

Article reference: UK-IA-WIL19
Last updated: September 2022 | 3 min read

About this series of articles

This article is one in a series about writing your own last will and testament.

Donating your body

Strictly speaking, you do not legally own your own dead body and, therefore, cannot donate it. However, if you make clear in your will or in any other document that you wish to give your body for teaching and research, or to donate organs, it is most likely that your executors and relatives will carry out your wish. This wish does not have to be evidenced in a will or in any particular format. It does not even have to be in writing. However, if there was a dispute between your executors or relatives as to your wishes, some documentary evidence would be necessary.

It is therefore important that if you discuss your wishes with your relatives.

Donor Card scheme

Many people feel that their body should have a use after death. A very popular scheme in the UK is the Donor Card scheme. This allows a donor, after death, to help someone else to live. With over 5,000 people in the UK in need of a transplant, this allows the matching of organs from people who no longer need them to people who will die if they don't get a transplant soon.

If you want to donate organs from your body after your death, it is also important to tell your family, because organs must be removed very quickly to be useful. It is also helpful if you carry a donor card and register with the NHS Organ Donor Register. Their address is:

PO Box 14
BS34 8ZZ

You can pick up a donor card from your doctors or pharmacy.

Donating your body to medical science

Another way of finding a use for your body, or the body of a loved one, is to give the whole body to medical science. Your body may be used for anatomical examination, teaching and research. The best and most useful way to do this is to specify a teaching hospital in your will, so that your executors can contact the right people immediately after your death. You can find a teaching hospital that will accept your body through the Human Tissue Authority, a non-departmental public body of the Department of Health and Social Care

Further information

We recommend that you read about how to choose executors and guardians next.

Because we believe that every adult should make a will, we provide some of our more straightforward documents for free. You can download any of our last will and testament templates. We offer nine in total that together cover thousands of possible variations of wishes.

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