- BACKGROUND: The degree of involvement by the next-of-kin in deceased organ procurement worldwide is unclear. We investigated the next-of-kin's authority in the procurement process in nations with either explicit or presumed consent. METHODS: We collected data from 54 nations, 25 with presumed consent and 29 with explicit consent. We characterized the authority of the next-of-kin in the decision to donate deceased organs. Specifically, we examined whether the next-of-kin's consent to procure organs was always required and whether the next-of-kin were able to veto procurement when the deceased had expressed a wish to donate. RESULTS: The next-of-kin are involved in the organ procurement process in most nations regardless of the consent principle and whether the wishes of the deceased to be a donor were expressed or unknown. Nineteen of the 25 nations with presumed consent provide a method for individuals to express a wish to be a donor. However, health professionals in only four of these nations responded that they do not override a deceased's expressed wish because of a family's objection. Similarly, health professionals in only four of the 29 nations with explicit consent proceed with a deceased's pre-existing wish to be a donor and do not require next-of-kin's consent, but caveats still remain for when this is done. CONCLUSIONS: The next-of-kin have a considerable influence on the organ procurement process in both presumed and explicit consent nations.