Organ and Tissue Donation Facts

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1. Your life is ALWAYS first.
If you are taken to a hospital after an injury or medical crisis, it is a doctor or an EMT’s priority to save your life. They are not involved in the organ and tissue donation or transplantation process. Your status as a donor is not even considered until every effort has been made to try to save your life.

In order to be eligible for donation, brain death must be declared. Machines keep one’s heart and other major organs functioning, but ultimately, there is no brain activity nor a chance for brain activity to return. This is typically the result of a devastating neurologic injury.

2. Everyone can register to be an organ and tissue donor.
Your age or health should not prevent you from registering to be an organ and tissue donor. Most health conditions do not prevent donation and age is not a factor. Let the medical professionals decide what can be recovered and used to save or help someone else.

3.  All faiths agree on organ and tissue donation.
All major religions support organ and tissue donation and consider it a generous act of caring.

4. There is no cost to your family.
If you decide to be an organ and tissue donor, your family will NOT have to pay for any medical expenses associated with the donation.

5. One donor can help more than 80 people.
Organs that can be donated for transplantation are: kidneys, heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, and intestines. One donor can save up to 8 people. Tissues that can be donated include: corneas, heart valves, skin, bone, tendons, cartilage, and veins. One donor can heal up to 75 people with their tissues.

6. Everyone is equal.
When it comes to waiting for an organ transplant, the system in place treats us as equals. Rich or famous individuals cannot and do not get priority on the national transplant waiting list. Factors such as blood type, body size, location, severity of illness and length of time on the waiting list are used to determine the best candidate for an organ. Purchasing and/or selling organs in the United States is illegal.

7. Your decision can save lives.
When you register to become an organ and tissue donor you are making a legal decision and this decision can save lives. Your decision is an advance directive. It is important to talk with your family and loved ones about donation to make sure they are prepared to honor your decision should you die in a position where you can donate life.

8. If you don’t make a decision, your family will.
If you haven’t registered to be an organ and tissue donor, your family will be asked to make a decision on your behalf during a very difficult time. Talking with your family makes them aware of your wishes and can make this decision easier.

9. You will be treated with respect.
The medical professionals who perform the recovery surgeries treat donor patients with the utmost respect, just like they would for any other patient. Open casket funerals are still possible after organ and tissue donation.

10. Registering is easy.
Registering to become an organ and tissue donor is simple. You can register online, when you apply for or renew your driver’s license or state identification card, or even on your iPhone via the Health App.