Deceased Donation

Deceased Donor Program

Donate your bone and make a difference.


Musculoskeletal disorders and diseases significantly impact the quality of life of many individuals both young and old. Many of these diseases or injuries can be treated using transplanted bone, thus providing a much greater quality of life.


The Musculoskeletal Tissue Donation Program is Australian Tissue Donation Network’s Deceased Donor Program, where donors donate tissue from their muscles, bones, joints, tendons and ligaments. Through the Musculoskeletal Tissue Donation Program, we aim to increase the awareness of tissue donation after death and provide education to both health professionals and the Australian public.


Participation in this program enables us to safeguard the future of Australian-made grafts. This gift can provide allograft material for countless types of treatments, for many different Australian recipients.

How is Tissue Donation Different From Organ Donation?

Many people wish to donate their organs; however, it is fair to say that less than 2% of Australians die in the very special circumstances necessary for organ donation to be realised. Most people don’t know about tissue donation, hence there are fewer people who want to donate their tissue, being listed on the Donor Register. Tissue donation covers those tissues such as corneas, heart valves, bone and tendons and skin.


Tissues can be retrieved up to 24 hours after death, not like organ retrieval which must occur as soon as possible after brain death, but while the heart is still beating. Tissue only donors don’t have to die in a hospital, it’s not uncommon for tissue retrievals to occur in either mortuaries or funeral parlours.


You can register your wishes to either be an organ or tissue donor below. Please ensure you tell your loved ones of your decision, remember, it is one of them who will be asked to give their consent, in the unfortunate event of your death.

Did you know that, after blood, bone is the second most transplanted tissue in Australia?

How Does the Musculoskeletal Tissue Donation Program Work?

Once you or your loved one has been identified as a potential organ and/or tissue donor, trained medical staff will assess suitability for donation. Even if the deceased is listed on the Australian Donor Register, consent must be obtained from their next of kin. At the same time, a detailed medical and social history will be completed by specialised staff.


After authorisation for donation has been given, the deceased is transferred to the retrieval area and tissues are removed within 24 hours of death by skilled Retrieval Technicians. The retrieval process is performed in a sterile manner in a surgical procedure using utmost care and showing respect for the deceased. The donation process should not interfere with funeral arrangements, including open casket services.


This is a community service and there are no additional costs to you, your family or the hospital. The ATDN also provides bereavement services to donor families.

How is Donated Musculoskeletal Tissue Used?

Long bones may be used to replace those invaded by cancer. This may save a limb which may otherwise have been amputated. Smaller sections of bone are used to strengthen areas of a deformed spine or to fill areas where bone has been lost, due to conditions or accidents that have damaged existing bone.


Damaged tendons and ligaments may be reconstructed, therefore, strengthening the joint and assisting the recipient with walking or running.


Skin can be life-saving for critically burned patients or for hernia repair, pelvic floor reconstruction and for breast reconstruction, following mastectomy.


For those who suffer from heart disease, donated heart valves, saphenous and femoral veins from the legs, can be used in cardiac bypass surgery.

A single donor can save or heal more than 100 lives through tissue donation.

Deceased Donor Program

How You Can Donate

The decision to become a bone donor or any type of donor is a personal one and you should inform your family or next of kin of your wishes to be a tissue donor.


You will need to register with a staff member from Australian Tissue Donation Network. Please contact us via the contact us details and our staff members will contact you to complete the process. They will also provide you with any other information you may require.


Thank you for giving your time and consideration to making a tissue donation for the benefit of other Australians.