Donating an organ or tissue is one of the most courageous acts you can make to improve the quality of life for another person. Our team members witness the incredible personal generosity and the emotional power of organ and tissue donation every day.
Sadly, an average of 18 people die each day due to a lack of available donated organs. Every organ and tissue donor can save and enhance the lives of up to 50 people. By becoming a donor, you have the power to change someone's life for the better.
Who can donate?
People of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential donors. It is possible to donate life to others as a healthy, living kidney donor or a partial liver, lung or pancreas donor. For other donations, your medical condition at the time of your death will determine what organs and tissue can be donated.
Who receives donated organs and tissue?
Donated organs include the heart, pancreas, kidneys, liver, lungs and intestines. Organs are distributed based upon medical information like blood type, body size, and tissue type matching through a national computer network operated by the United Network for Organ Sharing.
Donated tissue replaces bone, tendons and ligaments lost to trauma, cancer and other diseases. Donated corneas are needed to restore sight. Skin grafts can help heal a burn patient and can often mean the difference between life and death. Heart valves repair cardiac defects and damage. All tissue is distributed based upon patient need, availability and medical criteria.
It is illegal to distribute organs based upon non-medical information such as wealth, citizenship or celebrity status. It is also illegal to buy or sell organs and tissue for transplantation in the United States.
How the donation process works
- Your commitment to donation will not interfere with your medical care. Organ and tissue donation becomes an option only after all life-saving efforts have been made and death has been declared.
- Consent for donation is confirmed; your family is asked to participate in the process by providing your medical history.
- A surgical procedure is used to recover donated organs and tissue. The body is always treated with great care and respect.
- Donation should not delay or change funeral arrangements. An open casket funeral is possible.
Become an organ and tissue donor today
To ensure your wish to become a donor, you will need an official donor card. Individual states have organizations that serve as the official link between those awaiting transplants and the donors who make those transplants possible..
In Virginia, visit the Washington Regional Transplant Community website for organ donation.