Organ donation comprises of surgically removing a healthy and useful organ from a living or dead person’s body. It is then transplanted into the body of a patient who requires a replacement organ in order to live. Apart from organs, tissues can also be transplanted. Kidneys are one organ that can actually be removed from a living person, usually without any ill effects. Although many people express that they would like to donate their organs, in reality, very few do simply because they don’t know enough about it.
It is usually a good idea for donors to discuss organ donation with their families, so that family members are aware of their decision in case of a sudden death. If a donor succumbs to death, or even a stroke or severe head injury, the medics do everything they can to keep the body alive, even if the patient has been declared technically brain dead. The next step is for the hospital to get in touch with the organ procurement organization (OPO). This organization confirms that the patient is a registered donor and sends a representative directly to the hospital. There, the representative will double check the patient’s donor card. If there is none available, they will consult with the patient’s family to determine whether consent will be granted for organ donation. The OPO goes through their list of recipients to determine the best match for the organs. In this hospital, the body continues to be artificially maintained while the surgeons carefully and respectfully remove the organs. They are meticulously preserved and packaged, and then sent as quickly as possible to the recipient. The surgeons finish by neatly sewing the incisions so that the deceased patient can be prepared for the funeral. The issue of timing and efficiency are of the utmost importance since the surgeons need to ensure that they remove the organs without damaging them, while also delivering them quickly enough to the recipient. The recipients are usually already prepared and waiting for the new organ, so that it can be transplanted as soon as it arrives. The waiting period for organ transplants can sometimes be quite significant for potential recipients. Another major complication is that in some cases, the recipient’s body may reject the organ. For these reasons, OPOs and hospitals have to be extremely careful to find the most viable organs for a recipient.
Organ donation first starts when a person makes the decision to become a donor. This process can be done quite easily when obtaining or renewing your driver’s license. Each state has an organ donation registry. After people sign up, their consent is added to their driver’s license. As an extra precaution, donors should also add this information to their will.
Browse through these resources to learn more about organ donation and how to register.
- Organ Donations – The official government website for organ donations explains how to become a donor.
- Encouraging Organ Donations – Find out how to encourage others to donate their organs.
- All About Organ Donation – Read a comprehensive guide on organ donation and ethical issues.
- Organ Donation Resources - Get information on groups that help people to sign up for organ donations or provide further information on this topic.
- The Importance of Organ Donation – Learn how donated organs can help to save other lives.
- Become a Donor (PPT) – Watch a presentation that discusses organ donation and the benefits to everyone.
- Dead Donors – Read about organ donation and definitions of death, including brain death and Alzheimer’s disease.
- Statistics on Organ Donation – Although many people donate organs each day, it is still not enough to meet the current demand.
- Organ Donation Process – See how any healthy person can donate kidneys and read the appropriate steps to take.
- Living Donations – Since people can survive with just one kidney, it is possible to become a living donor.
- Myths About Organ Donations – Learn the truth behind several common misconceptions about donated organs.
- A Scarcity of Organs – Donated organs are hard to come by, which sometimes spells a life or death situation for recipients on a waiting list.
- Organ Donation Facts – Read some interesting facts about donated organs and tissue.
- A Guide to Organ Donation – A detailed guide on organ donation covers a number of resources including specific conditions and related news.
- Fact Sheet on Organ Donations – Read the answers to many common questions about the organ donation process.
- Proceeding with Organ Donations (PDF) – Find out how to register to be eligible for organ donations.
- Making the Decision – People are usually advised to discuss organ donation with their families before making a final decision.
- Which Organs to Donate? – Use an interactive online model to view the different organs that can be donated.
- Donating and Religion – Read about how different religions view organ donation.
- Why Donate? – Learn why people are encouraged to donate an organ and how it could make a difference.
- Organ Donation Glossary – Look up words and phrases often used in discussions about organ donation.
- Organ Donor Dash – A fundraising run has been organized to increase awareness of organ donation.
- Aspects of Organ Donation – Browse through several important factors regarding organ donation.
- Organ Donation & Transplantation Alliance – This non-profit group focuses on increasing public awareness and research related to donating organs.
- Who Can Donate? – Find out which types of people are eligible to donate an organ.