Organ, eye and tissue donation is one of the most generous and incredible acts that a person can do. It can have such a positive and profound impact on not only the people whose lives are saved, but their families, friends and communities. So, it’s important to know the process and understand how it works:
END OF LIFE Whether in a hospital or at the scene of an accident, emergency medical personnel immediately begin life-saving procedures. Every effort is made to save the patient, regardless of whether that person is a registered organ donor or not.
REFERRAL If the patient cannot be saved and has been declared brain dead at the hospital, hospital personnel must refer the patient to its designated organ procurement organization (OPO).
EVALUATION An organ recovery professional from the OPO goes to the hospital to determine if the patient is medically suitable for organ donation. Even after the patient dies, the ventilator remains on to provide oxygen to the organs, until the family decides about donation.
FAMILY The doctor will talk to the family about the patient’s death. The OPO will check the state and national donor registries to determine if the patient is a registered donor. OPOs and hospitals are obligated to honor donor designations, they are legally-binding documents. If he/she is a registered donor, the OPO will inform the family that their loved one had decided to give the ultimate gift – The Gift of Life. The family becomes an important part of the process of honoring their loved ones’ last wish. If the patient is not a registered donor, a specially-trained family services specialist from the OPO will sit with the family and discuss the option of donation. The family is given time to ask questions and think about it before they decide.
RECOVERY Once authorization is granted, the organs are recovered by the transplant surgical team and allocated to patients on the national organ transplant waiting list. Recipients are determined by a computer matching system based on a variety of factors such as blood and tissue type, time waiting, and location.
REGISTER TO BE A DONOR!
Registering to become an organ, eye and tissue donor is fast and easy. Click on your state of residence below to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor today! If you are registered through your state’s department of motor vehicles (or motor vehicle administration), you do not need to re-register online. The online registries and the DMV/MVA records are kept in the same database.
IMPORTANT FACTORS TO KEEP IN MIND:
There are NO barriers to registering. You can never be too old or too sick to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor. Medical professionals will make a decision about which organs/tissues you may be able to donate at the time of your death.
Your information is safe and secure. Only the organ and tissue donor agencies will have access – and only access that information at the time of death.
Registering to become a donor will ultimately save and enhance the lives of as many as 50 of your fellow citizens when you are able to donate. Thank you for taking the time to register to save lives!
WHAT ORGANS CAN YOU DONATE?
Potential organ donors are those who die from a severe insult or injury to the brain resulting in the irreversible cessation of all brain functions, including the brain stem, or those who are non-heart beating patients with unrecoverable brain damage. After death is declared, all brain-dead organ donors are maintained on a ventilator to provide artificial means of respiration.
WHAT TISSUES CAN YOU DONATE?
Potential tissue donors are those who have died who meet certain age/medical criteria determined at the time of death.