Some background information

The most important thing when someone is injured is to save their life!

However, in many cases the only thing that can save someone’s life is an organ transplant.

Organ transplants are a miracle of modern science. They save lives every day. Kidneys, heart, liver, lungs, pancreas and the small bowel can be donated and given by one person to complete stranger, an acquaintance and even members of your own family.

Other tissues can be donated too, including eyes, heart valves, bone and skin tissue.

This can be used in everything from severe eye disease to reconstructive surgery and skin grafts. Unlike organs, it may be possible to donate tissue up to 48 hours after a person has died.

These are many reasons why people might need to have an organ transplant.
For example, kidneys could be damaged because of:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure ((which damages blood vessels in the kidneys, reducing their ability to work properly)
  • A rare disease which may have been inherited

Organs can only last outside the body for so long before being transplanted:

  • Kidneys: the maximum is 36 hours and the typical time is 18 hours
  • Heart: the maximum is 7 hours and the typical time is 3 hours
  • Intestine: the maximum Is 12 hours and the typical time is 9 hours
  • Pancreas: the maximum is 25 hours and the typical time is 15 hours
  • Liver: the maximum is 19  hours and the typical time is 7 hours
  • Tissues: up to 48 hours.

Many thanks to Organ Donation Scotland and British Kidney Patient Association for the information. You can find more information on their websites: