Last Updated: Tuesday, October 04, 2022

Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation – Teacher resource and supporting materials

What is this?

These online resources have been created to help educate children and young people about matters relating to deceased organ and tissue donation, living kidney donation and transplantation. They have been designed to raise awareness, to encourage discussion and empower young people make an informed, educated decision about organ and tissue donation.

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Organ and Tissue Transplantation - Resource for Primary Schools in Scotland - Teaching notes

Organ and Tissue Transplantation - Resource for Secondary Schools in Scotland - Teaching notes

Who is this for?

The primary school resource is suitable for Primary 6 and 7 pupils and is focused around organ and tissue transplantation and how our bodies work.

The secondary school resource could be used in PSE, RMPS, the Science curriculum etc.

Explore this resource

In Scotland around 500 people are waiting for a transplant at any one time.

Not everyone who dies can become an organ donor. Only 1% of people die in circumstances where donation might be a possibility. This is because a person has to die in a hospital intensive care unit and their organs have to be suitable for donation.

Scotland has an opt out system of deceased organ and tissue donation which means that if a person dies in circumstances where they can donate and they haven’t opted out of donation, it will be considered that they were willing to donate. 

The legislation to introduce an opt out legislation came into effect on 26 March 2021. The opt out system applies to those aged 16 years and over.  

The opt out system does not apply to those under the age of 16 however in Scotland, children aged 12 and over can record their own donation decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register. 

It is important that those approaching their 16th birthday are aware of the opt out system and their choices around organ and tissue donation.  Donation is a personal decision and everyone has a choice – either to be a donor or opt out.  The Scottish Government is sending a letter all 15 year olds, 3 months before their 16th birthday advising them of their choices.

People are encouraged to record their decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register and tell their family and friends as they will always be involved in discussions about organ or tissue donation.

If a person is in hospital and dies in circumstances where donation may be possible, a Specialist Nurse would check if the person had registered a decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register. The Specialist Nurse would then discuss any registered decision, or lack of one, with family and friends in order to ascertain the potential donor’s most recent views, which may have changed since the recording of any decision.

These discussions help to ensure that people don’t become donors if that would be against their wishes. This is why, as well as recording any decision on the NHS Organ Donor Register, people are encouraged to let family and friends know about their decision and latest views.

If people choose to do nothing, it is assumed they agree to be a donor if they die in circumstances where donation is possible, unless they are in a group for whom the law does not apply.

How to use this resource

Both the primary and secondary school resources are online resources created on Google Slides. Each resource has a voiceover so sound is required.  If you have any issues using the online versions please email organ_donation_scotland@gov.scot.   

Primary School resource

This resource is focused around organ and tissue transplantation, how our bodies work and what organs can be transplanted.  It also contains videos of organ recipients talking about their experiences as well as classroom activities.

This resource is structured in line with Curriculum for Excellence levels.

Secondary School resource

This resource contains information about organ and tissue donation and transplantation, with a key focus around the choices young people have around making a decision about donation as they reach their 16th birthday in line with the opt out system of organ and tissue donation.  They also contain a range of videos and classroom activities.

A safe learning environment

Organ and tissue donation and transplantation can be an emotive topic and discussing it can provoke a range of responses.

The resources feature videos of transplant recipients talking about their experiences, a young boy receiving kidney dialysis and a member of a donor family talking about the death of a loved one who became an organ donor. 

This also may be a sensitive issue for some pupils as they may have personal and family experience of donation and transplantation, or they do not support it on religious grounds, or believe their religions do not permit it.