Frequently Asked Questions

If I am older or have medical conditions, can I still be a donor?

Anyone can sign up as a donor. Never rule yourself out due to your age or medical history.

If doctors see I’m a donor, will they try to save my life at the hospital?

Medical professionals are obligated to do everything in their power to care for patients; their top priority is to save lives. In fact, hospitals do not have access to the donor registry to know if a patient is registered as a donor. The opportunity for organ donation is not possible until all lifesaving efforts have failed.

Does my religion support organ and tissue donation?

All major religions in the U.S. support donation as a final act of charity and goodwill toward others. If you have any questions, please consult your religious leader.

Will my family have to cover the cost of my donation process?

There is no cost to the donor or their family for organ, tissue and eye donation. All costs related to donation are paid by the recovery agencies.

Can my organs be sold?

The sale of organs and tissue is illegal in the United States.

Can I have an open-casket funeral if I’m an organ donor?

An open-casket funeral is possible for organ, tissue and eye donors. The donor is clothed and treated with respect and dignity throughout the entire burial process. There are no visible signs of organ, tissue or eye donation at the visitation or funeral.

Can my organs be taken if I am in a coma?

No. Being in a coma and being brain dead are completely different. Patients can recover from comas. Brain death is declared when a patient has no brain activity and cannot breathe on his or her own. Brain death is irreversible. To be declared brain dead, the patient must undergo a series of tests to confirm brain death. Only after being declared brain dead can the process for organ donation begin.

Will the recipients of my organs know who I am?

The transplant recipient receives very general, non-identifiable information about their donor. Transplant centers and organ procurement organizations are required by law to protect both donor and recipient confidentiality. Recipients and the family members of donor heroes have the option to send letters to each other through their local organ procurement organization.

Do organs only go to people who don’t take care of theirs?

Transplants often help people who developed or were born with a condition that led to organ failure. A patient must pass a series of rigorous exams to be eligible for the transplant waiting list.

Can LGBTQIA+ community members be organ donors?

Anyone can sign up as an organ donor, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. At time of death, medical teams will determine what gifts can save and enhance the lives of others.

Is race considered in the organ matching process?

No, the transplant system is designed to avoid discrimination of any kind. Race, gender or income are never considered during the transplant matching process.

Do I need to sign up as a donor if I already documented my wishes in my will?

Yes. There is a limited window after time of death when organs are still viable for transplant. By the time your will is read and released, donation will likely no longer be possible. Beyond signing up as a donor, the most important thing you can do is talk to your family about your decision to be a donor.

How do I sign up to be a donor?

You can register your decision to be a donor anytime online or at a Bureau of Motor Vehicles branch. Please share your decision to be a donor with your family.