Online course

Organ Donation: The Essentials for Healthcare Professionals

Understand the key processes regarding organ donation with this course for healthcare professionals, anywhere in the world.

Organ Donation: The Essentials for Healthcare Professionals

Learn about different aspects of organ donation

Despite organ donation being hugely important there is currently limited training for healthcare workforce regarding the complex issues around organ and tissue donation. This course aims to change that.

On the course, created in collaboration with the NHS Blood and Transplant service, you will learn about the basic principles and processes involved in organ donation from the legal aspects, to types of donation, to the importance of communication with families.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 secondsWelcome to this organ donation course. We're delighted that so many of you are taking part. This course should equip you with the knowledge and insights about organ donation that we think every health professional should know, whatever your role, background, or experience. For some this might be a core part of your professional training or induction into a new role. For others it may be an update, because the scientific, ethical, and legal aspects around organ donation have changed a lot in the last few years. We hope by the end you will have gained a new understanding about organ donation that will support your clinical practise, and inform discussions with colleagues and with patients.

Skip to 0 minutes and 45 secondsThe lead educators are myself, a neurologist and medical educator, and mum to a child who became an organ donor. Together with Shibu Chacko, Julie Booth, and Gordon Turpie, all of whom are specialist nurses in organ donation here in the UK. You'll meet us throughout the course, and we'll be participating in discussions from time to time. In Week One we'll cover some basics about the numbers, who can donate, consent tissues, and the role of the specialist nurses or transplant coordinators in the process. You should also take a bit of time to get familiar with the FutureLearn platform and how to interact with us and your peers.

Skip to 1 minute and 21 secondsIn Week Two we go into more detail about some of the practicalities, including how potential donors are assessed and managed, and the support made available to families during and afterwards. We're looking forward to seeing how you get on and learning from your contributions in the discussions. Please do use them to ask questions and to interact with your fellow learners. Above all, enjoy your learning.

What topics will you cover?

  • Fundamentals of organ donation
  • Criteria for donation
  • Legal and ethical issues around organ donation
  • The role of the Specialist Nurse in Organ Donation
  • Donations after Death by Neurological Criteria (Brainstem Death) or Circulatory Death
  • Checking donor suitability
  • The organ retrieval process
  • Family care and follow up

When would you like to start?

  • Available now
    This course started 4 February 2019

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you'll be able to...

  • Explain the importance and basic principles of organ donation.
  • Summarise the types of donation, organs which can be donated and the absolute contraindications for donation.
  • Identify the key processes associated with organ donation such as referral, family consent, patient assessment, management of potential donors and organ allocation.
  • Describe assessing and diagnosing death by neurological criteria and management of a brainstem dead patient.
  • Evaluate the importance of laws and guidance that governs the process of organ donation and transplantation.
  • Describe tissue donation and how this is facilitated in UK.
  • Reflect upon the importance of family communication in the organ donation process.

Who is the course for?

This course is for Specialist Nurses in Organ Donation (SNODs), and healthcare professionals such as nurses and doctors of all levels of experience who wish to either update their knowledge or improve their awareness of the subject, for personal or CPD reasons. It will also be useful for students training to become healthcare professionals.

Who will you learn with?

Hannah Cock

Professor of Epilepsy & Medical Education; Mother of a son who donated his organs

Dr. Shibu Chacko

Specialist Nurse in Organ Donation (SNOD)
NHS Blood and Transplant UK.

Julie Booth

Employed by NHS Blood and Transplant as a Specialist Nurse in Organ Donation since 2016.

Gordon Turpie

Specialist Nurse for Organ Donation 2009 - 2016 NHS Blood & Transplant (NHSBT). Base: St Georges Hospital. Practice Development Specialist (PDS) NHSBT 2016 - present

Who developed the course?

St George’s is the UK’s only university dedicated to medical and health sciences education, training and research.

NHS Blood and Transplant provide a blood and transplantation service to the NHS, looking after blood donation services in England and transplant services across the UK.

Join this course

Start this course for free, upgrade for extra benefits, or buy Unlimited to access this course and hundreds of other short courses for a year.


Join free and you will get:

  • Access to this course for 4 weeks


Upgrade this course and you will get:

  • Access to this course for as long as it’s on FutureLearn
  • A print and digital Certificate of Achievement once you’re eligible

Unlimited (New!)
$269 $199 for one year

Buy Unlimited and you will get:

  • Access to this course, and hundreds of other FutureLearn short courses and tests for a year
  • A printable digital Certificate of Achievement on all short courses once you’re eligible
  • The freedom to keep the content of any of the courses you've gained a digital Certificate of Achievement on
  • The flexibility to complete your choice of short courses in your own time within the year
Find out more about upgrades or Unlimited.
Introductory offer. Available until 11 May 2019. T&Cs apply.