As part of transplant week, we've filmed inside the Freeman hospital in Newcastle to see some of the patients waiting for an organ.
Families who donated their children's organs talk about their brave decision
Every year thousands of transplants are carried out, but a quarter of patients die because of a lack of donor organs.
Sheila and John Ford are making plans to renew their wedding vows in November after a year where they have both been recovering from very serious surgery.
John became ill after he retired, before going into kidney failure.
He was put onto the organ donation register, and both his daughter and nephew were tested to see if they would be a match - but neither were.
John's wife Sheila was then tested and proved to be a match. The surgery took place earlier this year and both are now making a full recovery at their home in South Shields.
Sheila Ford was able to give her husband John an extremely important present earlier this year, when she donated her kidney to him.
John began to suffer from kidney failure shortly after he retired, and at one point was taken off the donor list because he was so unwell.
Both husband and wife are now recovering well after the operation that saved John's life.
A man was given a kidney by his wife.
John Ford had been suffering from kidney failure and was put onto the organ donation register shortly after he retired.
His daughter and nephew were tested to see if they were suitable donors but they proved not to be a match.
But a test on his wife proved positive and an operation was carried out earlier this year and they are both making their recovery at their South Shields home.
One of the first people to donate a kidney while still alive is urging others to register as a donor.
Kate Clarkson, who lives near Hexham, spoke at the start of National Transplant Week.
Only one in five in in the North East has signed a register to donate organs after they die.
Doctors in Newcastle are leading the way in transplant technology. The scientists at Newcastle University have developed a technique of washing lungs to make more donor organs useable. After successful trials at the Freeman Hospital the method is now being trialled around the country.
Philippa Bradbury and her mum Carol describe how they were planning for Philippa's funeral until she was able to have a lung transplant.
Researchers at Newcastle University are conducting a pioneering study to make donated lungs more usable.
Currently only one in five pairs of lungs are suitable for transplant. But trials are being carried out to clean and aerate the organs after they've been removed.
It is hoped the research will save the lives of many patients on the lung transplant list.