What to do after a death in Scotland - practical advice for times of bereavement: revised 11th edition 2016 (web only)

General information on what to do after someone dies in Scotland and about succession and inheritance law. See https://www.mygov.scot/bereavement-benefits/ for the latest information about benefits.

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2. Donation of body parts for transplantation

If someone dies in hospital, the donation of body parts for transplantation becomes possible. All the major organs and many kinds of tissue can be used for transplantation. One donor can help several of the hundreds of people in Scotland on the waiting list. A new organ will very often save a life. In other cases, an organ or tissue can free the recipient from long and painful treatments such as kidney dialysis.

To make sure of the best possible outcome for recipients, body parts for transplantation have to be removed very soon after death. This means that hospital staff must approach you in the very early stages of your bereavement. This will be done by a dedicated member of staff called a "transplant co-ordinator" who is trained to approach the subject in as sensitive a manner as possible.

The Law is based on making sure that the wishes people expressed in life about donation are carried out after their death.

People can express their wishes in a variety of ways, including:

  • carrying a donor card
  • putting their name on the NHS Organ Donor Register
  • adding a provision to their will
  • writing their wishes down
  • telling someone verbally.

These expressions are called "authorisations". If authorisation has been given properly, the hospital staff are entitled to go ahead with the retrieval of body parts for transplantation. The transplant co-ordinator will still wish to speak to you about this to find out if there is anything in the donor's medical or social history which would rule out the use of his or her body parts for transplantation.

If the person who died did not leave a clear indication of his or her wishes, the transplant co-ordinator will approach the nearest relative to ask whether or not he or she will authorise the removal and use of body parts for transplantation. The law makes it clear who the nearest relative is. If you are the nearest relative, you can give authorisation based on what you know your relative's views were.



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