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Top 10 Facts About Organ and Tissue Donation

1. 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.

2. Everyone Has the Potential to be an Organ and Tissue Donor

Your age or health should not prevent you from registering to be an organ, eye or tissue donor. Even smokers or heavy drinkers have organs or tissues that can save or change lives. Age is not a factor. The oldest organ donor was 92! Take the Interactive Body Tour above to find out more about which organs and tissues can be donated.

3. But Organ Donation is Not a Given

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).

If an individual dies and is not signed up in the Ohio Donor Registry, the next-of-kin must make the decision regarding donation. Families faced with the sudden, traumatic loss of a loved one under the age of 18 may say “no” to donation, even when the loved one wanted to be a donor. Once an individual is over the age of 18, their decision to register as a donor is legally binding and irreversible by anyone other than the individual themselves. The extremely small number of potential donors makes it crucial that every person who wants to be a donor should authorize that gift and sign up in the Ohio Donor Registry to ensure their decision is honored.

4. All Faiths Agree

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

5. There is No Cost to Your Family

If you decide to be an organ and tissue donor, your family will NOT have to pay for any medical expenses associated with the donation.

6. One Life Can Save 8 and Heal 50

Organ donors have the potential to save 8 lives and heal 50 through tissue donation. Read the personal story of organ donor Dustin Hart to find out how he saved seven lives after his death.

7. Everyone is Equal

When it comes to waiting in line for an organ transplant, we are all created equal. Wealthy or famous individuals cannot and do not get bumped up higher on the national transplant waiting list. Factors such as blood type, body size, location, level of illness and length of time on the waiting list are used to determine the best candidate for an organ.

8. Your Decision Will Be Honored

When you register in the Ohio Donor Registry to become an organ 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.

9. You’ll Be Treated With Respect

Organ, eye and tissue donors are heroes and are treated as such. The medical professionals who perform the recovery surgeries treat donors with the utmost respect, just like they would for any other patient. If you and your family were planning on an open casket funeral before death, these plans should not be affected by organ and tissue donation.

10. Registering is Easy

Registering to become an organ and tissue donor in the Ohio Donor Registry is simple. You can register right now, online. Or you say “yes” to organ and tissue donation when you visit the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles to receive or renew your driver license, state identification card or learner’s permit. Find out more about how to register to become an organ donor.

How it Works: The transplant process

The need for donated organs 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 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 that 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. 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 that 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 medical 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 organs and or tissues 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 single 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 that takes place in the preparation of the tissue before it is transplanted.