Bodies donated for medical research are often used for anatomical dissection and for the training medical students and organs may be used in transplant surgery. Bodies donated are usually preserved and used over three years or so, after which the cremated remains can be returned to relatives.
There is a National NHS Organ Donor Register and patients can get on this either by filling in a form available at most GP's surgeries, or by applying to go directly on to the register when registering with a GP, or by applying online to the NHS Organ Donor Register. You can also apply by phone or text. See our 'Organ donation' resources.
Anyone can be a donor and specific organs can be donated. The recipients for donation are chosen on the grounds of need and blood group and if necessary by tissue characteristic. There is a waiting list for organ transplantation because the demand far exceeds the supply.
You may be interested to see our section on organ donation and transplant and information about donating tissue after death.
Last reviewed August 2014.
Last updated August 2014.