Understand the Need for Donors
Did you know that today, there are approximately 120,000 people in the United States who need an organ transplant? In fact, each year the number of people on the national transplant list continues to grow—every 10 minutes, someone is added to the national transplant waiting list, and approximately 22 people die each day while waiting for an organ transplant. To say that there is a critical shortage of available organs is an understatement.
Organ Donors Save Lives
While more people than ever are registering to become organ donors, the need for donors remains steady and high. Why? It's because only 3 in every 1,000 people die in a way that allows for their organs to be donated. And yet, a single organ donor has the potential to save up to 8 lives, and he or she can improve the lives of up to 50 other people as a result of being willing to donate tissue and corneas. When it comes to organ donation, there is definitely a lifesaving power in numbers!
How Can I Become an Organ Donor?
Becoming an organ donor is easy and takes just minutes! All you have to do is sign up online in your state registry. To learn more about becoming an organ donor or to register today, CLICK HERE
. If you are 18 or older, no one can override your consent, but if you are under 18 years old, your parent or legal guardian(s) will need to provide consent.
Once you've made the decision to become an organ donor, it's important to let your friends and family know so there are no surprises or any potential confusion. While it's hard to think about being in a situation where it's not possible to save your life, if your family or emergency care people don't know that you wish to become a organ donor, then your next of kin may not provide consent. If you decide to become an organ donor and need or want to update your will to that effect, it's also important to let your loved ones know.
Once you've registered as an organ donor, try not to worry! In the event that you should find yourself in an emergency situation, your medical professionals will do everything in their power to save your life! Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about registering as an organ donor, and some may worry that if they register as a donor, they may not receive lifesaving treatment should the need arise. Rest assured that doctors are bound by the responsibility to preserve and save life, and they are not the same doctors who are involved with organ donation. Even if your situation should become grave, your being an organ donor must first be discussed with your next of kin before any permission to donate is given. In many states, two doctors must make the diagnosis; and to donate organs, a patient must be declared brain dead or meet the criteria of cardiac death.
Still Have Questions? Check the FAQs!
Following are answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about becoming an organ donor.
I want to become an organ donor, but I'm afraid my family won't be able to afford it. What should I do?
Donor families are not responsible for any costs related to organ donation. Any and all costs related to organ donation are covered by the organ procurement organization. Your family is only responsible for regular hospital expenses before brain death is ultimately declared.
I want to become an organ donor, but I hear I can't because I'd like to have an open casket. Is this true?
It's important to know that the donor's body is treated with the utmost respect and dignity. Organ recovery is conducted in an operating room by skilled surgeons or qualified recovery personnel, and it is highly unlikely that the process would disfigure your body or change the way it may look in a casket.
I want to become an organ donor, but I'm older. I also have a lot of health problems. I can't become an organ donor, right?
A lot of people think that they are too old or not medically eligible to donate, however, at the time of death, the appropriate medical professionals will review your medical and social history to determine if you're a good candidate for donation. Regardless of age, anyone can be considered for organ donation and everyone
is encouraged to register as a donor—whether you think you're eligible or not!
If I become an organ donor, will anyone be able to receive my organs?
Yes! Organs can be transplanted into individuals of the opposite sex, of a different race, or of different sizes.
I heard that rich people usually get organs faster, or can pay to get organs faster, than people in a lower socioeconomic situation. Is this true?
No! Wealth and social status are not
factors in matching donor organs to recipients. According to UNOS—the organization that maintains the national transplant waiting list—"the length of time it takes to receive a transplant is governed by many factors, including blood type, length of time on the waiting list, severity of illness and other medical criteria."
I heard that sometimes, organs are bought and sold. Is this true?
No! There is no black market for organs in the United States, nor is there any documented evidence of an illicit market for organs in this country! Not only is the sale of organs illegal and unethical, it is also practically impossible due to the complexities involved with transplantation.
I'd like to donate, but I'm afraid it's against my religion. What should I do?
It's important to know that with the exception of Shinto, all major religions approve of organ donation and transplantation. In fact, most organized religions consider organ donation to be a generous act and leave it up to the individual to decide whether he or she wishes to donate.
If you're still not sure about being an organ donor, the following websites may be able to provide you with the information you need to make an informed choice!