What you need to know about the power to give

Get answers to common questions about becoming a registered donor, the impact of organ donation and the transplant process. Una versión en español también está disponible.

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’s license or state ID, online, or by completing and returning an enrollment form. We also ask you share your donation decision with your family.

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’s license, learner’s permit or state ID card can authorize the donation of their organs, corneas and tissues 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.

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

One person has the potential to save 8 lives and heal more than 75. 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.

Is there a maximum age for organ, eye and tissue donation?

No! 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?

No! 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.

Will doctors try to save my life if they know I am a registered organ, eye and tissue donor?

Yes! 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 exhausted to save your life and death has been declared.

Will my donation decision be honored at the time of my death?

Yes! When you register as an organ, eye and tissue donor in the Ohio Donor Registry you are making a legal decision. 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 imperative to talk about your decision with your family.

What if members of my family are opposed to donation?

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

Is there a cost to donation?

No! The donor’s family neither pays for, nor receives payment, for organ, eye and tissue donation. Hospital expenses incurred before the donation of organs in attempts to save the donor’s life, as well as funeral expenses, remain the responsibility of the donor’s family. All costs related to donation are paid by the organ, eye and tissue recovery agencies or the transplant center. Again, 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 last act of caring. Read your religion’s statement on donation.

Can rich or famous people “jump” the waiting list?

No! Matching organs to recipients is based strictly on medical criteria and has nothing to do with notoriety or wealth. The process for matching a recipient with a donor is dependent upon how sick an individual is and who the best match for the organ is. Occasionally, it may seem that 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 circulatory (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. The standards for determining that someone is brain dead are strict. Only about one out of a hundred individuals in the United States will die through the process of brain death and have the potential for organ donation. Tissue donation can occur after either type of death, but organ donation can only occur after brain death.

How are recipients matched to donor organs?

Persons waiting for transplants are listed at the transplant center where they plan to have surgery, and are placed on a national computerized waiting list of potential transplant patients in the United States. Under contract with the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) maintains the National Transplant Waiting List. UNOS operates the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network and maintains a 24-hour telephone service to aid in matching donor organs with patients on the national waiting list and to coordinate the efforts with transplant centers.

When donor organs become available, several factors are taken into consideration in identifying the best-matched recipient(s). These include medical compatibility of the donor and potential recipient(s) on such characteristics as blood type, weight and age. Urgency of need, and length of time on the waiting list are also factors in the allocation process. In general, preference is given to recipients from the same geographic area as the donor because timing is a critical element in the organ procurement process.