Common Questions about Eye, Organ and Tissue Donation
Q. Who can be donor?
A. Anyone of any age, with any kind of medical history can choose to save lives through donation. Your health, age and lifestyle should not be factors in your decision to become an eye, organ and tissue donor. Which organs and tissue can actually be used will be determined at the time of your death, when your current medical condition is evaluated. Don’t rule yourself out; you can save lives!
Q. Which organs and tissue can be donated?
A. The heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, small intestine and pancreas are organs that can be donated. Transplantable tissue includes bone to prevent amputation, heart valves for children born with heart problems or adults who have heart disease, skin to act as a temporary covering for burn victims, corneas to restore sight, ligaments and tendons to repair injured joints and saphenous veins for bypass surgery. One donor can affect the lives of up to 100 different people!
Which organs and tissues you can donate will be evaluated at the time of your death. Your current health status or lifestyle should not be a factor in your decision to help others through donation.
Q. Does donation affect funeral plans?
A. Donation neither disfigures the body nor changes the way it looks in a casket. There can be an open casket funeral after donation.
Q. Are there any costs to my family for donation?
A. Donation costs nothing to the donor's family or estate.
Q. Does my religion support organ and tissue donation?
A. Yes. Donation is widely accepted by Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism and Islam. All major religions approve of organ and tissue donation and consider it a gift-an act of charity. Many religions have position statements but still contact your spiritual advisor if you have questions.
Q. Is the availability or access to organs affected by race or wealth?
A. No. Federal law establishes full and equal access to donated organs and tissue for all potential recipients on the basis of need and availability, not race or wealth. A national system matches critically ill patients on a nationwide waiting list with donated organs, based on medical urgency and compatibility such as blood type, tissue match and body size. Buying and selling organs is illegal.
Q. Will my decision to become an organ and tissue donor affect the quality of my medical care?
A. No. Organ and tissue recovery takes place only after all efforts to save your life have been exhausted and death has been legally declared. The doctors working to save your life are entirely separate from the medical team involved in recovering organs and tissues.
Q. How do I sign up to be a donor?
A. You become an eye, organ and tissue donor by joining the Colorado or Wyoming Donor Registries. If you live outside of Colorado or Wyoming, visit this site to find out about your state’s procedure. After you join the registry, it is important to communicate your decision to your family so that they can support your decision, if and when the opportunity comes for you to be a donor. You may also call toll free to (888) 256-4386.
Q. What does it mean to join the Organ & Tissue Donor Registry?
A. Being on the Donor Registry means that you have elected to have all of your organs and tissues made available for transplant at the time of your death. Sometimes, for medical reasons, organs and tissues cannot be transplanted.
Your family will be informed of your decision to be an eye, organ and tissue donor at the time of your death and will be asked to provide information about your medical and social history. Restrictions to your gift can be recorded by visiting www.donatelifecolorado.org or www.donatelifewyoming.org if you are a Wyoming resident. However, it is not necessary to restrict your gift for reasons of age or medical history. (Medical suitability can only be determined at the time of death.)
Enrollment in the Donor Registry is not the only way to be a donor. If you decide to be a donor but prefer not to join the Registry, it is important to tell your family about your decision. At the time of your death, your family will be contacted to make the decision to donate on your behalf.
Q. What is the Donor Registry?
A. The Colorado and Wyoming Organ & Tissue Donor Registries are secure and confidential databases listing everyone who has indicated their decision to be an eye, organ and tissue donor.
Q. How can I join the Registry?
A. You can join by saying "yes" to donation while obtaining or renewing a driver's license or state identification card. You can also join at public events, health fairs or by calling toll free (888) 256-4386. You may also enroll online at www.donatelifecolorado.org. Wyoming residents can enroll at www.donatelifewyoming.org. If you live outside of Colorado and Wyoming, visit this site to find out about becoming a donor in your state.
Q. Why is it important to join the Registry?
A. At the time of a health emergency, driver's licenses and ID cards are not always accessible. The Registry provides on-the-spot information at the time of death about an individual's decision to be a donor, which guarantees that an individual's decision to donate will be honored and respected.