Get organ donation facts to learn how to save lives

The need for organs far outweighs the availability of donors. Donate Life America estimates that 18 people on the wait list die each day because of a lack of available organs.

Most people know that donation is a life-saving option for many people, but the decision to become a donor isn’t easy. It can be a little scary — especially with a lot of misinformation surrounding the process.

Organ donation saves lives of people from children to adultsGet the right organ donation facts to make an informed decision about whether you want to become a donor.

Understanding organ donation

Anyone can choose to sign up as a donor at any age. When a person dies, medical professionals evaluate the health of their organs. If the patient is a donor, those organs can go to someone on a list of potential recipients in that region.

There are donations you can make in life, as well, such as a portion of your lung or a kidney. This usually occurs between two people who know each other, but a particularly altruistic individual can be a living donor if they match a recipient nearby. features an informative video about the process of organ donation and transplant.

Dispelling the myths with organ donation facts

  • What organs can be donated?
    The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) describes how organs — including the lungs, heart, pancreas, liver, intestines and kidneys — are evaluated after death for their donation potential. Tissue can also be donated, as well as corneas, skin, tendons, bone marrow and heart valves.
  • Can I limit the organs I choose to donate?
    Yes. When you join the donor registry in your state, you will have the option to specify limitations.
  • Will my medical care be affected?
    When you are admitted to the hospital, your medical team will make every effort to save your life. Only after these procedures have been exhausted will the hospital consider your donor status.
  • How are organs distributed?
    A national system links up donors and recipients. The Donate Life video describes this process in more detail. Decisions are based on blood type, organ size, recipients’ time on the wait list, tissue type and geographic location.
  • Will my body be disfigured?
    Many people wonder if they can have an open-casket funeral after being an organ donor. The procurement process uses the latest surgical techniques and closes all incisions afterward — so, yes, you can.
  • Does being an organ donor align with my faith?
    It’s best to speak with a leader within your faith if you are concerned about spiritual aspects. Most major religions have provided statements confirming that organ donation fits within their beliefs. UNOS has compiled a list of these statements.
  • Does my family have a say in the decision?
    If you become an organ donor, be sure to communicate your wishes with your family. They may be asked to sign a consent form for donation. Also, designate your donor status on your driver’s license and include it in any advance directives. Parents are able to make the decision to donate life after the death of a child. Your family is not responsible for any costs associated with organ donation. Specifics on how to document your wishes and how they are carried out varies by state. Contact your local organ procurement office to learn more.

Become a donor

More than 120,000 people of all ages are currently waiting for organs to give them another chance at life. To become an organ donor, sign up with your state’s registry. One donor can save up to eight lives.

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