Organ Donation FAQs

When you agree to be an organ donor, all it takes is a check mark on your driver’s license application. But what does it really mean when you make this decision?

On this page, we’ll give you head-to-toe answers for some of the most frequently asked questions about organ donation.

Who’s allowed to be an organ donor?

People of all ages (from newborns to senior citizens!), races, and ethnicities can be organ donors.

Can I be a donor if I have a health condition?

Yes! Certain health conditions may not affect all of your organs. If you pass away, doctors will examine your tissues and make the decision as to which organs are safe for donation.

How do I become an organ donor?

It’s easy! Several states allow you to register as an organ donor when you apply for or renew your driver’s license. You can also register online.

If you decide to become an organ donor, don’t forget to tell your family. That way, there won’t be any surprises and, if needed, they can let medical staff know you’d like to donate your organs in the event you pass away.

What does it mean to be on the donor registry?

When you register as an organ donor, you grant permission for your organs to be distributed to people in need once you pass away. Typically, those who die in the hospital after being on life support are the most successful donors.

Which organs are used for donation?

Most states allow you to choose how much you’d like to donate—this could mean just one organ or your whole body. You can choose to donate your:

  • Heart/heart valves.
  • Kidneys.
  • Lungs.
  • Pancreas.
  • Intestines.
  • Liver.
  • Skin.
  • Corneas.
  • Bones/bone marrow.
  • Blood vessels.
  • Connective tissue.
  • Stem cells/peripheral stem cells.
  • Umbilical cord blood.

Who receives my organs?

Determining which patient receives your organs depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • Matching their blood/tissue type to yours.
  • Their time spent on the waiting list for the type of organ(s) they need.
  • How severe their medical condition is.
  • Their proximity to your hospital.

Your race and ethnicity have no effect on who receives your organ(s). In fact, currently over 50% of the people on organ/tissue transplant wait lists come from a racial or ethnic minority.

The need for organ donors increases everyday as the wait lists for organ and tissue transplants also continue to grow. 

What impact does becoming an organ donor have?

With your organ donation, you can save up to 8 lives! Even after passing away, you’ll make an unforgettable impact on the life of each person who receives your organs, along with their families and friends. 

How do I know my organs will be donated?

If you’re 18 years old or older and registered as an organ donor, nobody can prevent your organs from being donated once you’re deceased. You can rest assured that your wishes will be carried out.

If you’re an organ donor who’s younger than 18 years old, your parent or legal guardian will need to approve donation of your organs if you pass away. It’s best to make sure that you’re all on the same page in the event that they need to make this decision for you.

Does it cost money to donate organs?

For the organ donor (and their family), no. The costs of the transplant are paid entirely by the person receiving your organs and/or tissues.

Does being an organ donor change the medical care I receive?

Nope! The medical professionals who treat you while you’re alive are completely separate from the team who transplants your organs. The treatment you receive is the same as if you hadn’t registered to be an organ donor.

Can I change my mind about being an organ donor?

Yes. Whether you registered online or through your state agency, there’s always an option to remove yourself from the organ donor registry. You’ll need to access to your organ donor status and make the request for removal.