Facts about organ donation
Despite continuing efforts at public education, misconceptions and inaccuracies about donation persist. Learn these facts to better understand organ, eye and tissue donation:
Fact: A national computer system and strict standards are in place to ensure ethical and fair distribution of organs. Organs are matched by blood and tissue typing, organ size, medical urgency, waiting time and geographic location.
Fact: People of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential donors. Your medical condition at the time of death will determine what organs and tissue can be donated.
Fact: Organs and tissue that can be donated include: heart, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, liver, intestines, corneas, skin, tendons, bone, nerve and heart valves.
Fact: Even if you have indicated your wishes on your driver’s license, state donor registry or the National Donate Life Registry, share your decision with your family so they know your wishes.
Fact: Organ donation is consistent with the beliefs of most major religions. Read about theological perspectives on organ and tissue donation
Fact: An open-casket funeral is possible for organ and tissue donors.
Fact: There is no cost to the donor’s family or estate for organ and tissue donation.
Fact: If you are sick or injured and admitted to the hospital, the number one priority is to save your life. Organ donation can only be considered after brain death has been declared by a physician.
Fact: Information about an organ donor is only released to the recipient if the family of the donor requests or agrees to it. Otherwise, a patient’s privacy is maintained for both donor families and recipients.
Fact: Living donation increases the existing organ supply.
Fact: Donors are needed for all races and ethnic groups. Transplant success rates increase when organs are matched between members of the same ethnic background.
Facts about the “Waiting List”
Waiting for a transplant is not like taking a number and waiting your turn. The waitlist is better described as a giant pool of patients. When a deceased organ donor is identified, UNOS’ computer system generates a ranked list of transplant candidates who are suitable to receive each organ. UNOS matches individuals waiting for a lifesaving transplant with compatible donor organs.