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Vidyya, from the Sanskrit "vaidya," a practitioner who has come to understand the science of life.

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Back To Vidyya How To Become An Organ And Tissue Donor

General Information For Patients

Transplantations save lives, but only with the publics help. All that is needed is for a person to say yes to organ and tissue donation on a donor card and/or driver's license and discuss the decision with his/her family.

Each day about 60 people receive an organ transplant, but another 16 people on the waiting list die because not enough organs are available.

Individuals should be aware that even if they have signed something, their family may be asked to give consent before donation can occur.

One organ and tissue donor could save or enhance the lives of more than 50 people. To download a donor card, click on this icon below:

Download donor card



Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who can become a donor?

Q: Are there age limits for donors?

Q: How do I express my wishes to become an organ and tissue donor?

Q: If I sign a donor card, or indicate my donation preferences on my driver’s license, will my wishes be carried out?

Q: What organs and tissues can I donate?

Q: If I sign a donor card, will it affect the quality of medical care I receive at the hospital?

Q: Will donation disfigure my body? Can there be an open casket funeral?

Q: Why should minorities be particularly concerned about organ donation?

Q: Are there any costs to my family for donation?

Q: Can I sell my organs?

Q: How are organs distributed?

Q: How many people are currently wait listed for each organ so they can have a transplant?

Q: Can I be an organ and tissue donor and also donate my body to medical science?


Who can become a donor? [Top]

All individuals can indicate their intent to donate. Medical suitability for donation is determined at the time of death. [Top]

Are there age limits for donors? [Top]

There are no age limitations on who can donate. The deciding factor on whether a person can donate is the person’s physical condition, not the person’s age. Newborns as well as senior citizens have been organ donors. Persons under 18 years of age must have parent's or guardian's consent.

How do I express my wishes to become an organ and tissue donor? [Top]

  1. Indicate your intent to be an organ and tissue donor on your driver’s license. Look here for driver’s licensing information for your state.
  2. Carry an organ donor card.
  3. Most importantly, DISCUSS YOUR DECISION WITH FAMILY MEMBERS AND LOVED ONES.

If I sign a donor card, or indicate my donation preferences on my driver’s license, will my wishes be carried out? [Top]

Even if you sign a donor card it is ESSENTIAL THAT YOUR FAMILY KNOWS 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 area..

What organs and tissues can I donate? [Top]

If I sign a donor card, will it affect the quality of medical care I receive at the hospital? [Top]

No! Every effort is made to save your life before donation is considered.

Will donation disfigure my body? Can there be an open casket funeral? [Top]

Donation does not disfigure the body and does not interfere with funeral plans, including open casket services.

Why should minorities be particularly concerned about organ donation? [Top]

Some diseases of the kidney, heart, lung, pancreas and liver are found more frequently in racial and ethnic minority populations than in the general population. For example, African Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders and Hispanics are three times more likely to suffer from end-stage renal disease than Whites. Native Americans are four times more likely than Whites to suffer from diabetes. Some of the these diseases are best treated through transplantation; others can only be treated through transplantation.

Successful transplantation often is enhanced by the matching of organs between members of the same ethnic and racial group.  For example, an African American patient is often less likely to reject a kidney if it is donated by an individual who is genetically similar.  Generally, people are genetically more similar to people of their race than to people of other races.  A shortage of organs donated by minorities can contribute to death and longer waiting periods for transplants for minorities.

More information on Minorities and Organ Donation and Transplantation

National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health: Minority Programs and Initiatives—Allergy, Immunology, and Transplantation

Minority Organ Tissue Transplantation Education Program (MOTTEP): 202-865-4888

United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) Minority Affairs Committee

New Method of Matching Donated Kidneys May Mean More Transplants for Minorities (UNOS Press Release)

Health Care Financing Administration's End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Program Management and Medicaid Information System provides downloadable information on approved providers of kidney dialysis and transplantation.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health Provides patient information on kidney diseases.

Office of Minority Health (OMH) within the Office of the Secretary

Are there any costs to my family for donation? [Top]

The donor’s 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 or Medicare.

Can I sell my organs? [Top]

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 advantage.

How are organs distributed? [Top]

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.

How many people are currently waiting for each organ to become available so they can have a transplant? [Top]

Link to the United Network for Organ Sharing’s Weekly U.S. Transplantation Statistics. Use the back button on your browser to return to this page.

Can I be an organ and tissue donor and also donate my body to medical science? [Top]

Total 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.


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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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