How do you become a donor?

Registering to become an organ, eye and tissue donor in the Ohio Donor Registry is simple. You may do so by saying “yes” when receiving your driver license or state ID, online, or by completing and returning an enrollment form.

We ask you also tell your family of your wishes.

Why should you consider becoming an organ, eye and tissue donor?

Advances in medical science have made transplant surgery extremely successful. Transplantation is no longer considered experimental, but rather a desirable treatment option. The major problem is obtaining enough organs for the growing number of Americans who need them. There are hundreds of thousands of Americans waiting for a life-saving organ transplant so they can have a second chance at life.

Sadly, there are not enough organ donors to meet the growing need, resulting in the deaths of 20 men, women, or children each day.

Does everyone have the potential to be an organ, eye and tissue donor?

You are never too old to be an organ, eye or tissue donor – in fact, the oldest organ donor was 92 and the oldest tissue and cornea donor was 107! Your age or health should not prevent you from registering to be an organ, eye and tissue donor.

Does my sexual orientation exclude me from registering to be an organ donor?

Organ donation does not discriminate against sexual orientation. Anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, can be an organ donor, both living and deceased.

Can organs, corneas and tissues be transplanted between races and genders?

Yes. Gender and race are not factors considered in the matching process.

How many lives can I save and heal by being a registered donor?

One person has the potential to save 8 lives and heal more than 50.

Organs that can be donated include: Kidneys, Heart, Liver, Lungs, Pancreas, and Small Intestine.

Tissues that can be donated include: Heart Valves, Corneas, Skin, Bone, Ligaments, Tendons, Fascia and Veins.

Can you still choose to donate if you are younger than 18 years of age?

Yes, any individual who is 15 1/2 years old or older and holds a valid Ohio driver license, learner’s permit or state ID card can authorize the donation of their organs, corneas and tissue by joining the Ohio Donor Registry at their local Bureau of Motor Vehicles office, by filling out and mailing in a registration form, or online.

Once an individual is in the Ohio Donor Registry, no one else has to provide authorization for the donation. However, for individuals 15 1/2 to 18 years old, their parents or legal guardians can revoke or amend their authorization for donation.

Will doctors try to save my life?  

Your life is always first. If you are taken to the hospital after an accident or injury, it is the hospital’s number one priority to save YOUR life. Your status as a donor is not even considered until every effort has been made to try to save your life and death has been declared.

Will my wishes be honored at the time of my death?

Yes. When you register in the Ohio Donor Registry to become an organ, eye and tissue donor you are making a legal decision and, even after your death – your wishes will be honored. If you are over the age of 18, your registration is legally binding and no one but you can change your decision to donate. While not all families agree about donation, it’s important to talk about your decision with your family so they know your wishes should you pass away.

What if members of your family are opposed to donation?

Talking to your family about your desire to be an organ, eye and tissue donor and educating them about the facts of donation and transplantation are important steps to make your family feel comfortable with your decision.

Is there a cost to donation?

If you decide to be an organ, eye and tissue donor, your family will NOT have to pay for any medical expenses associated with the donation. There is no cost to your family.

Does organ donation interfere with funeral plans?

No. If an open casket funeral was possible before donation taking place, it is possible after donation.

Does my religion support organ, eye and tissue donation?

All major religions in the United States support organ, eye and tissue donation and consider it a generous act of caring. Read your religion’s statement on donation.

Are people able to skip to the top of the waiting list?

When it comes to waiting in line for an organ transplant, we are all created equal. Matching organs to recipients is based strictly on medical criteria and has nothing to do with notoriety or wealth. Factors such as blood type, body size, location, severity of illness and length of time on the waiting list are used to determine the best candidate for an organ.

Occasionally, it may seem rich or famous individuals receive transplants more often, but that is simply because as a society we pay attention when these people receive transplants and not when people from the general public receive transplants.

Is it permissible to sell human organs?

No. The National Organ Transplant Act (Public Law 98-507) prohibits the sale of human organs. Violators are subject to fines and imprisonment.

Can you donate an organ while you are still alive?

Yes. Lifeline of Ohio does not facilitate living donation, but you can learn more about it here.

What if I want to donate my body to science?

Lifeline of Ohio facilitates deceased donation only. If you are interested in whole body donation, you must make arrangements with a medical school prior to your death. For more information, visit this page – Whole Body Donation Programs.

What is brain death?

Death occurs in two ways: 1) from cessation of cardio-pulmonary (heart-lung) function; or 2) from the cessation of brain function (brain death). Brain death occurs when a person has an irreversible, catastrophic brain injury, which causes all brain activity to permanently stop. In such cases, the heart and lungs can continue to function if artificial-support machines are used. However, these functions will also cease when the machines are discontinued.

Brain death is an accepted medical, ethical, and legal form of death. Only about one out of a hundred individuals in the US will die through the process of brain death and have the potential for organ donation (you do not need to die of brain death to be a tissue donor).


How it Works: The Transplant Process

The need for donated organs, corneas and tissues is growing at a much greater rate than their availability. And while transplantation is now considered a standard medical treatment for a wide variety of conditions, it is important to remember that without an individual saying, “yes” to donation, transplants are not possible.

Step 1

The process of organ, eye and tissue donation begins with an individual’s commitment to share the Gift of Life. This single decision helps to bring something positive to a tragic situation.

Step 2

When it has been determined a person is in end-stage organ failure and the only hope is an organ transplant, the patient will go through a series of medical and psychological tests before they are listed for a transplant at a transplant center. Once all of the pre-transplant requirements are met, he or she is placed on the United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) National Transplant Waiting List.

Individuals waiting for an organ transplant are listed in the UNOS computer based upon their personal medical characteristics (severity of illness, blood type, tissue type, body size, geographic location, etc.). These characteristics are utilized to determine a match when there is an organ donor. The amount of time an individual will have to wait for a transplant can vary from a few hours to many years.

Step 3

When a death occurs or a brain death declaration is imminent, several physicians confirm the brain death declaration in the hospital. Once confirmed, all hospitals are required by Medicare to contact an independent organ procurement organization (OPO), like Lifeline of Ohio. The OPO evaluates the individual for the potential to donate and facilitates the placement of the organs with waiting recipients, and the recovery process which includes delivery to the transplanting centers. This process ensures neither the hospital nor the transplant center is involved in the donation process.

Step 4

Once an organ has been donated, the best transplant candidate match is identified and contacted by the transplant center. The prospective recipient then goes directly to the hospital to receive their transplant. Following a transplant, recovery times can vary from a few days to several months. To ensure the body accepts the new organ, recipients need to take immunosuppressive drugs daily.

Tissue Donation

With tissue donation, there is not a national waiting list, but the Food and Drug Administration regulates the country’s tissue banks. Medical matching for tissue donation is not necessary because the donated tissue is processed before it is implanted into a recipient as an allograft.

Additionally, it is not necessary for tissue recipients to take medications after their transplant because of the purifying which takes place in the preparation of the tissue before it is transplanted.