Human Tissue Authority

The regulator for human tissue and organs

World Kidney Day and Living Organ Donation

Issue date: 
11 March 2019

From Monday 11 March to Sunday 17 March, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) will be highlighting the importance and impact of living kidney donation.  Their campaign will coincide with World Kidney Day which takes place on Thursday 14 March.

As the regulator of living organ donation in the UK, the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) will support NHSBT’s initiative to generate a greater awareness and better understanding of how living organ donation works.

Our role is to
make a decision on whether or not each proposed case of organ donation from one living person to another can go ahead, based on the criteria set out in law. This decision is made with the help of Independent Assessors (IAs), who are volunteers that interview donors on behalf of the HTA to ensure that they are not being forced to donate against their wishes, that no reward has been sought or offered, and that the donor has the capacity to make an informed decision having understood the procedure and risks involved.


During the week, NHSBT will draw a particular focus on those who donate to someone they don’t know. This is known as non-directed altruistic donation (NDAD). Since 2006, more people, year on year, are volunteering to donate their organ or part-organ to someone they do not know.


Donation can only go ahead once we have carefully assessed all of these cases and we are satisfied that the conditions of the Human Tissue Act have been met. An integral part of this is obtaining valid consent from the donor. After the HTA approves a non-directed altruistic kidney donation, the donor can then choose to donate his or her kidney to a patient in the UK living kidney sharing scheme.

Research undertaken by NHSBT has shown that there are around 5,000 people in the UK in need of a kidney transplant. Since April last year, the HTA approved 934 living organ donation cases, with 66 of these from non-directed altruistic kidney donors.


Nicolette Harrison, HTA’s Director of Regulatory Delivery said: We warmly welcome NHSBT’s campaign to promote a greater awareness of living kidney donation for World Kidney Day. A better understanding of how altruistic organ donation works, will mean that people who make this generous gift of donation can potentially make an even greater contribution to the lives of those awaiting an organ transplant.

We are also extremely grateful for the hard work that our Independent Assessors do to assist the living kidney donation programme in the UK, and we will continue to make sure that they are supported in this crucial role.”


As part of investing in the important role of Independent Assessors, we are implementing some changes that will make their training and reaccreditation more sustainable and robust.


You can read more about our role in living donation, and the Independent Assessment process, on our website here.

You can also download our leaflet about our role in organ donation in multiple languages, including: WelshUrduPunjabiPolishHindiGujaratiGreekBengaliArabic, and Malayalam.


  1. NHS Blood and Transplant is a joint England and Wales Special Health Authority. They provide the blood donation service for England and the organ donation service for the UK. They also provide donated tissues, stem cells and cord blood. They are an essential part of the NHS, saving and improving lives through public donation.
  1. The HTA is a statutory regulator that ensures that appropriate and valid consent needs to be in place when organs and tissue are donated from deceased and living people for transplantation. This means that when donation goes ahead, it is done properly.
  1. Read the HTA’s leaflet on consent and organ donation in England and Northern Ireland and the HTA’s leaflet on consent and organ donation in Wales.
News type: 
Last updated on: 12 Mar 2019