Organ Donation

What organs and tissues can I donate?

Kidney – People on dialysis suffering from kidney disease may benefit from a transplant. A recipient of a kidney transplant will be given that chance to lead a more normal life.

Liver – Many children and adults suffering from severe liver disease will die without transplants. Donation gives them a second chance.

Lung, Heart or Heart/Lung – Many types of fatal heart and lung diseases can be treated successfully through transplantation.

Pancreas – Through pancreatic transplantation, diabetics can look forward to tomorrow without daily insulin shots and the possible loss of limbs, sight, or life.

Eyes – The cornea, similar to a contact lens, is the transplant tissue that covers the iris, the colored part of the eye. The cornea may be transplanted to restore sight to the blind.

Skin – A thin layer of skin, approximately 1/lOOth inch thick, may be donated and used as a temporary covering for burn wounds.

Bone – Bone is the most frequently used tissue. Bone plays an important role in curing birth and other defects and for back and dental surgery.

How do I get organs for transplantation?

Organs are donated by individuals at the time of their death. The circumstances of the death and the health history of the donor determine which organs can be used.

Who bears the cost for such donations?

Since organ and tissue donation are gifts there is no cost to the family of the donor. By law, no payment can be made to them. All of the expenses and costs for donor medical tests and organ recovery are incurred by the organ bank. However, funeral expenses must still be paid by the donor’s family.

If I donate my organs and tissue, will this preclude me having an open casket funeral?

Absolutely not. Organ and tissue donation does not prevent persons from viewing the body or having a normal funeral service. Skilled medical personnel treat the body with the utmost respect and care.

Who will receive my organs and tissue?

Donees or recipients are determined be need, as well as by tissue and blood match.

Will there ever exist a conflict between saving my life and donating organs?

Absolutely not. There are strict legal guidelines that must be followed before death can be certified and organs removed. These particular laws preclude a physician who has declared a person dead from being involved in the removal of that person’s organs or the transplantation surgery itself.

How can I declare that I wish to donate my organs and tissue?

Although there is no clear-cut manner in which to accomplish this goal, there are several things you can do. One is to sign a “Uniform Donor Card,” which you can obtain from a local or national organ bank. The other method is to sign a “Statement Regarding Anatomical Gifts.” Both statements should be discussed with your family or authorized representative so they are fully aware of your wishes. It is probably a good idea to discuss such donations with your physician as well.

What if I declare my intent to donate my organs and then change my mind?

That is perfectly fine and is your legal right. If you do change your mind after making such declaration, simply tear up the donor card or legal statement and relate such actions to your family and physician. You can always redeclare your intent to donate organs if you change your mind again later.