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To Sam

Stress about organ donation

dear sam,

recently the NHS announced the new opt out policy for organ donation. as a teenager i have always seem death as something far away; not something i need to plan for now. i know that it is amazing as it saves lives but the idea of my body or the body of somebody i love being mutilated and harvested for organs is severely distressing to me. however, i feel incredibly guilty because it's a great cause. I don't know how to cope with such an important decision that distresses me so much.

Ask Sam


Hi there,

Organ donation means that when you die, parts of your body can be used to help others survive. The people who need organ donations are often people who have diseases or injuries which mean their own organs don't work anymore and they need a transplant to stay alive. It's not always an easy thing to think about but the law in England is changing so it's something you may have to think about when you turn 18.

Currently adults must have given permission to have their organs donated when they die. This law is changing in England in 2020 so that adults’ organs will be donated when they die unless they ‘opt-out’ of organ donation. If you’re under 18 this won't affect you as it only applies to adults, but there are existing rules for young people.

If a young person dies then it’s their parents or carers who’ll decide if their organs are donated or not. You can add yourself to the donor register, but you will need your parent's permission. If you live in Scotland once you’re 12 you can make that decision yourself without your parents. Remember you can also tell your parents that you don’t want to donate your organs as well.

Whatever happens it’s a difficult thing to imagine someone you love having their organs taken and used by someone else. If someone you know has decided that they don't want to opt-out of the organ donor register, try to remember that this was their choice. As difficult as it is to think about, their decision can save a lot of lives. Death is rarely a positive thing, but some people find it easier to accept if they know they ‘re helping others after they die and it's important to respect that.

There are ways to help people while you’ re alive which don't involve giving up organs, such as giving blood. Giving blood is one way to get used to the idea of helping others through donations. You ‘are allowed to give blood once you’re 17, though there are also some restrictions on who can give blood. The NHS has a lot of information for young people about donating organs and giving blood that you might find useful.

This is a difficult topic to think about so make sure you get some support. Our counsellors are here to listen whenever you need to talk.

Thanks for your letter.

Take care,


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