Becoming an Organ Donor: Common Questions About Organ Donation

National Donate Life Month 2019 logoCurrently, more than 110,000 men, women and children are waiting for a new organ. And while organ donation is overwhelmingly supported – 95 percent of adults agree organ donations save lives – only 58 percent of adults are registered organ donors.

This hesitancy is caused by many different reasons – from not realizing the importance of registering to misconceptions about the organ donation process. Today, in honor of National Donate Life Month, we’re answering some of the most common questions about how and why it’s important to donate an organ. Discover the difference you can make in someone’s life.

Do Registered Organ Donors Receive Different Care?

Though it’s a common misconception that organ donors receive a lower level of care, the answer is absolutely not. Doctors, surgeons, nurses and all health care providers are trained professionals committed to improving the health of individuals and saving lives. This commitment is true regardless of age, race, ethnicity, background and status as an organ donor.

Whether or not you or your loved ones will donate organs is a conversation that will take place only after all life-saving options have failed. Care teams respect patient families and offer the necessary resources and time needed to make this important decision.

Is it Expensive to Donate Organs?

There is no cost to the donor family if a loved one’s organs are donated. Locally, LifeLink of GA assumes all expenses related to organ and tissue recovery.

How Many Lives Can an Organ Donor Save?

One organ donor can save as many as eight lives. Heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys and intestines are life-saving donations that can improve the health and wellness of someone else and give them a second chance at life.

Which Organs Can Be Donated?

With advances in medicine and technology, the list of what can be donated continues to grow. It includes:

  • Blood and platelets
  • Blood stem cells, cord blood and bone marrow
  • Corneas (the clear part of the eye over the iris and pupil)
  • Organs – Kidneys, liver, lung, heart, pancreas and intestines
  • Tissues – Middle ear, skin, heart valves, bones, veins, cartilage, tendons and ligaments

And most recently, hands and faces have been approved for transplant.

What is Living Donation?

Living donation allows a living donor to donate certain organs (or parts of certain organs) to someone in need. Living donation includes:

  • A portion of the liver, pancreas or intestine
  • One kidney
  • One lung

Living donation is a safe way to save a life. Living donors should be in good overall physical and mental health and older than 18 years of age. Some medical conditions could prevent an individual from being a living donor. Transplant programs complete a full patient evaluation to protect both living donor and recipient health and safety. Donors are able go on to live healthy, full lives. Learn more about Emory’s Living Donor Kidney Program.

Can I Choose Where My Loved One’s Organs Go?

You’re not able to choose who receives an organ donation, except in living donation. Organ donors must believe that all life is sacred and recognize their organ may go to someone from a different background, culture or ethnicity.

How Are Organs Matched?

Organs are matched to individuals on the waiting list by several different factors. This includes blood and tissue type, medical need, time spent on the waiting list and geographical location.

How Do I Sign Up to Become an Organ Donor?

If you’re ready to save a life, register to become a donor by visiting Donate Life Georgia. You can also learn more about Emory Transplant Center and organ donation by visiting emoryhealthcare.org/transplant or calling 855-366-7989.

About Emory Transplant Center

Emory Transplant Center is a leader in clinical excellence and in pioneering new transplant therapies. We offer cutting-edge technology and superior outcomes in heart transplant surgery, kidney transplant surgery, liver transplant surgery, lung transplant surgery and pancreas transplant surgery.

Our patients come from all over the nation for our high level of expertise and proven patient outcomes. We are proud to be ranked among the top 12 transplant programs in the nation and have performed more than 9,000 transplants to date.

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