You are a potential organ, tissue and eye donor regardless of your age or medical history. Although not everyone will be able to donate all organs or tissues, almost every donor will have something to offer those who are waiting for a better life. Donors are evaluated medically at the time of death.
Today it is possible to transplant about 25 different organs and tissues, including heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, bone (used in specific surgical procedures), cartilage, skin (as a protective covering for severe burns) and corneas.
Anyone, regardless of age, vision or circumstances of death, may donate his or her eyes. Corneal transplants restore vision to individuals whose corneas are diseased or injured. The sclera, or white part of the eye, is used for eye, ear, nose and mouth surgeries.
The level of medical care you receive in the hospital is not affected by a signed donor card. Medical care is based on the determination of what is best for you to save your life. You can be considered a candidate for donation only after you are declared legally dead.
There is no change in the appearance of the body after donation. Removal of donated organs, tissues and eyes is carefully done during a surgical procedure and does not interfere with funeral arrangements. You can have an open casket funeral.
There is no cost or payment to your family or your estate when you are a donor. Organ, tissue and eye donations are gifts.
The principles and practices of organ, tissue and eye donation are approved and supported by all major religious denominations in America. Transplantation is consistent with the life-preserving traditions of these faiths.
All patients on waiting lists throughout the country are registered with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) computer network in Richmond. When a donor organ becomes available, the UNOS computer generates a list of potential recipients ranked according to objective medical and scientific criteria.