Body and Organ Donation 

How do I become an organ donor?

Anyone can be considered for organ donation. Organs which may be donated include kidneys, liver, heart valves, heart, lungs, eyes, bone and skin - depending on the age and condition of the donor at the time of death. 

You can register your wish to become an organ donor when you get or renew your driver’s licence. Ticking the 'Yes' box when you get your drivers licence only means that you have indicated your wish to be identified as an organ and tissue donor. It does not automatically mean that your organs or tissues will be donated in the event of your death.

In practice, your family will always be asked for their agreement to organ and tissue donation. It is important to discuss your decision with your family first, because ultimately they will be making the final decision. 

A body will not be disfigured when organs are taken out and a funeral can be carried out as usual. For more information on organ donation and how to become an organ donor see Organ Donation New Zealand.

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Can I overrule my child’s decision to donate their organs?

If someone has indicated their wish to donate their organs (e.g. in their will or as recorded on their driver licence), this decision can be overruled by the family. Only the organs and tissues that the family consents to being taken may be removed from the body. For this reason it’s best for people to talk it over with their family when they decide to become a donor.

For more information, see the Organ Donation New Zealand FAQ.

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Can I donate my body to medical science?

To donate your body, you should contact a medical school (their contact details are below). You should also make your wish known to family and friends before your death, and ask them to contact the medical school as soon as you pass away. Note that the medical school cannot accept your body if your family objects to the bequest.

There are two places in New Zealand that accept bodies: the Otago School of Medical Science and the Auckland School of Medicine.

The body needs to be specially embalmed within 24 hours of death, which means that they can only take bodies from certain parts of the country (for example the Otago School of Medical Sciences accepts bodies from Otago, Invercargill, Canterbury and Nelson/Marlborough regions only).  

The contact details are:

Bequest Co-ordinator
Department of Anatomy with Radiology 
Auckland School of Medicine
Phone: 09 923 6703
Fax: 09 923 9500

The Bequest Administrator
Department of Anatomy
Otago School of Medical Science
P O Box 9054
Phone: 0800 580500 or 03 479 7131

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Is there financial assistance for live organ donors?

Live organ donation is when you donate a kidney or liver tissue while you are alive.
If you are a live organ donor - if you donate a kidney for transplant for example - you may be eligible for financial assistance from WINZ for loss of income or childcare costs if you:

  • were assessed by a District Health Board as being a suitable donor
  • have freely given informed consent
  • lost income or have extra childcare costs (for children aged under 14 years) resulting from the operation.

You probably won’t be eligible if you are already receiving a main Work and Income benefit, but you may be transferred to the Emergency Benefit temporarily so that you don’t have your usual benefit obligations.

How much financial assistance you receive will depend on your age, family situation and usual income, but you could get payments for up to 12 weeks during and after the operation. More details about payment amounts are on the Work and Income website. You can find out about other Work and Income assistance on our Benefits pages.