Frequently Asked Questions
can become a donor?
All individuals can indicate their intent to donate (persons
under 18 years of age must have parent's or guardian's consent).
Medical suitability for donation is determined at the time
there age limits for donors?
There are no age limitations on who can donate. The deciding
factor on whether a person can donate is the persons
physical condition, not the persons age. Newborns
as well as senior citizens have been organ donors. Persons
younger than 18 years of age must have a parent's or guardian's
do I express my wishes to become an organ and tissue donor?
your intent to be an organ and tissue donor on your drivers
an organ donor card.
important, discuss your decision with family members
and loved ones.
I sign a donor card or indicate my donation preferences
on my drivers license, will my wishes be carried out?
Even if you sign a donor card it is essential that your
family know your wishes. Your family may be asked to sign
a consent form in order for your donation to occur.
If you wish to learn how organ donation preferences are
documented and honored where you live, contact your local
organ procurement organization (OPO). The OPO can
advise you of specific local procedures, such as joining
donor registries, that are available to residents in your
can be donated?
If I sign a donor card, will it affect the quality of
medical care I receive at the hospital?
No! Every effort is made to save your life before donation
donation disfigure my body? Can there be an open casket
Donation does not disfigure the body and does not interfere
with having a funeral, including open casket services.
should minorities be particularly concerned about organ
need for transplants is unusually high among some ethnic
minorities. Some diseases of the kidney, heart, lung,
pancreas, and liver that can lead to organ failure are
found more frequently in ethnic minority populations than
in the general population. For example, Native Americans
are four times more likely than Whites to suffer from
diabetes. African Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders,
and Hispanics are three times more likely than Whites
to suffer from kidney disease. Many African Americans
have high blood pressure (hypertension) which can lead
to kidney failure. Some of these diseases are best treated
through through transplantation; others can only be treated
rate of organ donation in minority communities does not
keep pace with the number needing transplants. Although
minorities donate in proportion to their share of the
population, their need for transplants is much greater.
African Americans, for example, are about 13 percent of
the population, about 12 percent of donors, and about
23 percent of the kidney waiting list.
donor organs to potential recipients requires genetic
similarity. Generally, people are genetically more similar
to people of their own ethnicity or race than to people
of other races. Therefore, matches are more likely and
more timely when donors and potential recipients are members
of the same ethnic background.
patients may have to wait longer for matched kidneys and
therefore may be sicker at the time of transplant or die
waiting. With more donated organs from minorities, finding
a match will be quicker and the waiting time will be reduced.
information on Minorities and Organ Donation and Transplantation:
there any costs to my family for donation?
The donors family does not pay for
the cost of the organ donation. All costs related to donation
of organs and tissues are paid by the recipient, usually
through insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.
I sell my organs?
No! The National Organ Transplant Act (Public
Law 98-507) makes it ILLEGAL to sell human organs
and tissues. Violators are subject to fines and imprisonment.
Among the reasons for this rule is the concern of Congress
that buying and selling of organs might lead to inequitable
access to donor organs with the wealthy having an unfair
are organs distributed?
Patients are matched to organs based on a number of factors
including blood and tissue typing, medical urgency, time
on the waiting list, and geographical location.
many people are currently waiting for each organ to become
available so they can have a transplant?
of people requiring a life-saving transplant continues to
rise faster than the number of available donors. Approximately
300 new transplant candidates are added to the waiting list
each month. For the number of patients now on the waiting
list and other data, please go to the Organ
Procurement and Transplantation Network Web site.
I be an organ and tissue donor and also donate my body to
body donation is an option, but not if you choose to be
an organ and tissue donor. If you wish to donate your entire
body, you should directly contact the facility of your choice
to make arrangements. Medical schools, research facilities
and other agencies need to study bodies to gain greater
understanding of disease mechanisms in humans. This research
is vital to saving and improving lives.
non-resident aliens donate and receive organs?
Non-resident aliens can both donate and receive organs in
the United States. During 2002 and 2003, 513 of the 26,090
organ donors were non-resident aliens, or less than two
per cent. Policies developed by the Organ Procurement and
Transplantation Network (OPTN) allow up to 5% of recipients
at a transplant center to be from other countries. From
1995 to 2002, non-resident aliens accounted for only about
one per cent of more than 20,000 transplants performed annually.
Organ allocation is based on the principles of equity and
medical utility with the concept of justice applied to both
access (consideration) as well as allocation (distribution).
I have a previous medical condition, can I still donate?
Regardless of any pre-existing medical circumstances or
conditions, determination of suitability to donate organs
or tissue may be based on a combination of factors that
take into account the donor's general health and the urgency
of need of the recipient. This determination is usually
done by the medical staff that recovers the organs or by
the transplant team that reviews all of the data about the
organ(s) or tissue that have been recovered from the donor.
We recommend that all individuals consider themselves potential
organ and tissue donors, indicate their intent to donate
by signing a donor card, and discuss their decision with
family members. Transplant professionals will evaluate potential
donors and determine suitability for donation of particular
organs or tissue when the time for donation arises.
Organ Donar.com -- Donate Life
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