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HealthInfo Canterbury

Organ & tissue donation

This page has links to information in other languages.


Organ or tissue donation is the act of giving an organ or body tissue to someone who needs a transplant.

People need transplants when their organs or tissues have failed or been damaged by disease or injury.

To do a transplant, doctors operate to remove the organ or tissue from a donor and place it in the recipient.

A deceased donation is when organs or tissue are donated after the donor has died. A living donation is when a donor donates their organ or tissue when they're alive.

Deceased donations

Organs that can be donated after the donor has died include the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, pancreas and small intestines. Tissues include the corneas, skin, veins, heart valves, tendons and bones.

Deceased organ donation happens when someone dies unexpectedly in an intensive care unit (ICU). If this happens, a health professional will ask the deceased person's whānau/family about the deceased person's views on organ donation.

It's important to think ahead about if you would like to be a donor. The most important thing to do is to have a conversation with your loved ones about your wishes.

See Everything you need to know about donation and Have the conversation today from Organ Donation New Zealand for more information.

Living donations

The most common organ donated by living donors is the kidney. This is because a healthy person can live a normal life with only one kidney. See Becoming a live organ donor from the Ministry of Health for more information.

Many people are suitable to be live kidney donors, but removing a kidney is a big operation. Live donors must have excellent health. This is to reduce the risk of the operation and the chance of long-term side effects of living with one kidney.

The best way to get more information about live kidney donation is to talk to a kidney coordinator at your nearest hospital.

The Ministry of Health now compensates organ donors for lost earnings. For eligible donors, they pay for up to 12 weeks of lost earnings while the donor recovers from the donation surgery. See Compensation for live organ donors from the Ministry of Health for more information.

This information is also available in Māori, Samoan and Tongan.

You can also contact the Ministry of Health on 0800-855-066, or Healthline on 0800-LIVE-DONOR (0800-5483-3666).

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by nephrology specialist at Christchurch Hospital, Canterbury DHB Page created July 2018.


Page reference: 506590

Review key: HIORG-506590