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Organ Donation: What You Need to Know

Organ donation

As you consider end of life planning, organ donation is an important topic, as it could be your final gift to the world.  Find out how to plan for this and other important last wishes using Plan My Affairs.

Why Be an Organ Donor

At any time, over 100,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for a lifesaving organ donation.  Donating tissue and organs is one of the most life affirming decisions you could ever make.  According to the American Transplant Foundation, a single organ donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation and can enhance more than 100 lives through tissue donation. Every 12 minutes another name is added to the waiting list for a lifesaving organ transplant

  • Commonly donated organs include; the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, pancreas and small intestines
  • Transplantable tissues include; corneas, skin, veins, heart valves, tendons, ligaments and bones

Donor families consistently report that the act of organ donation helps with the grieving process. Knowing that someone else is alive due to a loved one’s generous donation can help ease the pain of the loss.

Common Misconceptions about Organ Donation

There are many myths about organ donation that cause people to hesitate to register.  Understand the real facts so you can make the decision that’s right for you:

How old is too old for organ donation?
There is no defined cutoff age for organ use.  The doctors at the time of death whether organs and tissues qualify for transplant

If I have a chronic illness am I eligible for organ donation?
Answer: People living with serious diseases are still encouraged to join the donor registry.  Each person’s medical condition is evaluated at the time of their death to determine which organs and tissues are viable for donation.

Are certain religions against organ donation?
Answer: Most major religions support organ and tissue donation including; Roman Catholicism, Islam, most branches of Judaism and Protestant faiths. For more information, seek the advice of your spiritual advisor.

Do organ donations only go to the rich?
Answer: A patient’s income, race or social status are not taken into account in the organ donation process.  Severity of the illness, time on the list and match are the criteria that impact who gets organ transplants.

Would I have to have a closed casket funeral after organ donation?
Answer: Each donor’s body is treated with respect and dignity allowing for viewing and open casket funerals where preferred.

How much will it cost my family if I donate my organs?
The costs associated with recovering and processing donated organs are never passed to the donor’s family.

How to Become an Organ Donor

There are multiple ways to become an organ donor.  What’s most important is that your loved ones know your wishes. Hospitals seek consent from next of kin before removing lifesaving organs and tissues, make sure you’ve documented your wishes in your living will and your personal affairs organizer.  Most states have organ donor registries, go to OrganDonor.gov to be directed to your state’s registry.  Many people also register while obtaining or renewing their driver’s license.

 Document and Share Your Last Wishes

A little planning can go a long way to ease the confusion and grief of losing a loved one.  That is where Plan My Affairs can help. You can plan and share your personal affairs with loved one and trusted advisors.


Download Your Personal Planning Checklist. This checklist will outline some of the many elements you should consider in your Plan My Affairs Plan.