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Organ and Tissue Donation

Organ and tissue donation can save lives. Today many organs and tissues can be transplanted, including the kidneys, liver, heart, lungs and the pancreas. Tissues that can be donated include bone, skin (for severe burn victims), bone marrow, corneas, blood vessels, certain heart valves, ligaments, nerves and cartilage. Organ and tissue donations are also valuable in research, which is the key to making progress in the fight against disease.

The Gift of Life

Why is it important to donate organs?

Because it saves lives. The more donors there are, the more lives can be saved. Each year thousands of people receive transplants. New drugs and improved surgical techniques have made transplants more successful. Unfortunately, many people desperately need organs and tissues, but not enough are available.

Who can be a donor?

Anyone can make the decision to be a donor. Individuals under age 18 must have a parent or guardian's signature on a donor card or to place the donor designation on their driver's license. It also is important to inform your family about your decision to donate. Your medical history at the time of death will determine what organs and tissue can be donated.

Why is the donor card so important?

Designating your intent to be a donor on your license or donor card is a valid and legal gift document. Share your decision with your family so they are aware and can help carry out your wishes. Many families find comfort in knowing ahead of time what their loved one's wishes are regarding organ and tissue donation. Donor cards are available through UPMC in central Pa. and by contacting the Gift of Life Donor Program at 1-800-366-6771. You may also choose to have the designation of organ donor noted on your driver's license.

Does organ and tissue donation disrupt funeral arrangements?

Donated organs are removed surgically, in a routine operation similar to any other surgery. Donation does not disfigure the body or change the way it looks in the casket.

Can I change my mind?

Yes, you can change your mind at any time. Please be sure to tell your family.

Does organ donation conflict with my religious beliefs?

All major religions approve of organ and tissue donation and consider it the highest expression of compassion and generosity.

Can I donate organs in my will?

By the time your Last Will and Testament is read, it is too late for any organs to be donated. You can designate your wishes in your Living Will. It is very important that you discuss your desire to be a donor with your family.

Do health problems or old age disqualify me from being a donor?

People of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential donors. All donors are evaluated on a case-by-case basis at time of death.

To Become a Donor

  • Tell others of your wish to be a donor, especially your family
  • Complete an organ and tissue donor card
  • Note organ donor on your driver's license

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