Get the Facts About Becoming an Organ Donor

Sports Woman's legs in running movementYou know that February 14 is Valentine’s Day. But did you know it’s also National Donor Day? If you register to be a donor, you may be a literal life saver. There are over 100,000 people in the United States who are waiting for donated organs and tissue. And estimates suggest that one donor may be able to help up to 50 people.

Choosing whether or not to become an organ and tissue donor is very personal. You may find it hard to think about such a thing. Or you may have concerns that are holding you back. Learning some basic facts about organ donation may help you make a more informed decision.

You may be able to donate at almost any age. There is no set upper or lower age limit. Newborns and older adults and every age in between may be able to donate. If you are under 18, you’ll need your parent’s permission. The health and condition of your organs and tissue is more important than your age.

You may be able to donate even if you’re in poor health. Certain illnesses and conditions may affect the health of some of your organs and tissues. But there may be many others that are not affected. Doctors assess the condition of any donated organs and tissues. Only those that meet strict criteria will be used.

Many religions support organ donation. Some religions have beliefs about the body and death that seem to conflict with organ donation. But often other beliefs—about the value of life and the value of being selfless—supersede those. If you are not sure about how your religion feels about the issue, you may want to talk to a religious leader.

There is no cost to donate. Your family will not have to pay if you donate your organs and tissue. All costs related to the organ donation are covered by an organ procurement organization, or OPO.

You can make a real difference. You may be able to help someone on a transplant list receive the gift of sight, the gift of healing, or the gift of life. In fact, you may be able to do all of those things—for a child, a teen, a parent. It could even be someone from your own family.

It’s easy to become a donor. You can go to organdonor.gov and register in your state’s donor registry. You can also sign up to become a donor at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Your license will include a donor icon to signal your status as a donor. Once you’ve signed up, it’s best to let your family and friends know. That way they can support your wish at the time of your death. You may also want to update your advance directives to reflect your wish.

On National Donor Day, consider registering to become a donor. You may be able to give the best gift of all—the gift of life.