People are being urged to sign up to the NHS organ donor register this week as part of National Transplant Week.
Currently more than 7,500 people in the UK are awaiting a transplant, with the average wait for an organ being three years.
Every week three people die waiting for such an operation, the NHS said.
A record 18 million people are signed up to the register at present but this represents just 30% of the UK population.
Sally Johnson, NHS Blood and Transplant director for organ donation and transplantation, said: "We all know how frustrating it is to wait for something we want - be it a bus, exam results or a delivery at home - but our lives don't depend on it.
"Imagine how it feels to be one of those waiting on average three years for a life saving organ transplant?
"This National Transplant Week we are asking everyone to do their bit to reduce the wait for others and join the NHS organ donor register, sharing their wishes with their family and friends so that more lives can be saved."