Can my nearest relatives override my wishes about donation?

Relatives may only object if you are not a registered donor, or if you recorded in the Register that you wish to leave the decision to your nearest relatives. If you have registered that you don’t want to donate any of your organs or tissue, this may not be overruled by anyone. If you have registered that you want to be a donor, your relatives may overrule this only if they have compelling reasons to do so.

The doctor informs the nearest relatives of the donor’s wishes

In practice, a doctor always discusses the matter of organ donation with the patient’s relatives, even if the deceased person is a registered donor. The doctor will then explain the donation procedure in greater detail.

Two reasons for not carrying out the donation

There are two exceptions to the general rule that a donor’s wishes are always carried out:

Severe distress to the nearest relatives

If organ or tissue donation would cause severe mental distress to the nearest relatives, the doctor may decide not to go ahead.

Donor aged under 16

The minimum age for registering as a donor in the Donor Register is 12. However, if a child under 16 dies, the parents or guardian may object to these wishes, even if the child is a registered donor.

If the deceased did not consent to donation

If the deceased has stated in the Register that they do not wish their organs or tissue to be donated, their relatives cannot overrule this decision.