Thinking about becoming an organ donor?

It’s more than just checking a box when you renew your driver’s license – organ donation is a serious gift of life to another person. Deciding to become an organ donor may sound scary at first, and you may have questions about the process. We’re here to help you think through the considerations before you make a decision.

Organ donation and transplantation involves transferring organs or tissues from one individual (the donor) into another person’s body (the recipient). Check out these FAQs from our April Wellness newsletter:

Why Become an Organ Donor?

The science of organ transplantation has made great strides in recent years. However, finding organs is still a challenge — there is a critical shortage of organs while the number of people waiting to receive them is rising. There are over 120,000 people on the national organ transplantation waiting list and only about 1,100 donors. One organ donor can save as many as 8 people.

How Do I Become a Donor?

State your intent to be an organ donor on your driver’s license.
Register to be a donor at
Tell your loved ones you want to be a donor so they know your wishes.

What Organs and Tissues Can Be Donated?

Organs: heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver and intestines
Tissues: corneas, skin, veins, bone, bone marrow, heart valves, middle ear, tendons and ligaments
Blood and platelets

How Much Does It Cost to Donate Organs?

Nothing. All costs related to donation are paid by the organ recipients and their insurance.

Does Organ Donation Cause Disfigurement?

No. Organ donation does not dramatically change the appearance of the body, and the donation will not interfere with having an open casket funeral.

Who Manages the Distribution of Organs?

The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) maintains the national Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. Through the UNOS, organ donors are matched to waiting recipients 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Patients are matched to organs based on a number of factors, including blood and tissue type, medical urgency, the recipient’s time on the waiting list and geographical location.

How Much Does a Transplant Cost?

The transplant process has many costs, including pre-transplant testing, procuring the donated organ, the transplant surgery, follow-up care and lifetime prescription drugs. These costs can total hundreds of thousands of dollars. Without a payment guarantee, someone in need of an organ cannot be placed on a waiting list.

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