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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you register as a donor?

There are three ways to join the Ohio Donor Registry.

  1. Register online. You'll need a valid Ohio driver license or state identification card.
  2. Complete and mail a Donor Registry enrollment form.
  3. Say YES at the BMV when you receive or renew your driver license or state identification card. You should also talk to your family about your wishes so that they can help to honor your decision at the time of death.

Can you still choose to donate if you are younger than 18 years of age?

Yes. At age 15.5, you are eligible to receive a Temporary Instruction Permit and join the Ohio Donor Registry. Consent of a parent(s) or guardian(s) is required should a child under the age of 18 die and become eligible to donate.

In addition to registering, people under the age of 18 are encouraged to discuss their donation wishes with their parent(s) or guardian(s).

Can you donate an organ while you are still alive?

Certain kinds of transplants can be done through the generosity of living donors, who are often related to the person needing the transplant. People can live normal lives with just one healthy kidney. Also, there are new methods of transplanting a part of a living adult's liver, pancreas or lung. Get more information on living donation here.

What is the maximum age for organ donation?

Anyone of any age can be an organ donor. You're never too old to be considered for donation. The oldest donor to date donated a liver at the time of his death at the age of 92.

Does the family have to pay for the cost of organ/tissue donation?

No. All costs related to donation are paid by the organ/tissue recovery agencies or the transplant center. The donor's family neither pays for nor receives payments for organ and tissue donation. Hospital expenses incurred before the donation of organs in attempts to save the donor's life, as well as funeral expenses, remain the responsibility of the donor's family.

Does donation leave the body disfigured?

No. The recovery of organs is conducted in an operating room under the direction of qualified surgeons, and the recovery of corneas and tissue is done by highly-trained staff under the strictest rules to minimize infection. An open-casket funeral is possible.

Can organs and tissue be transplanted between races and genders?

Yes. Gender and race are not factors considered in the matching process.

What is brain death?

Death occurs in two ways: (1) from cessation of cardio-pulmonary (heart-lung) function and/or (2) from the cessation of brain function. Brain death occurs when a person had an irreversible, catastrophic brain injury, which causes all brain activity to permanently stop. In such cases, the heart and lungs can continue to function if artificial-support machines are used. However, these functions will also cease when the machines are discontinued. Brain death is an accepted medical, ethical and legal declaration of death. The standards for determining that someone is brain dead are strict.

Why are people who jeopardized their health with alcohol and drugs still eligible for a transplant?

Chemical dependency is a disease, not unlike other disease processes. People who are chemically dependent and need liver transplants must be clean of all drugs and alcohol for six months and have undergone rehabilitation.

What can be donated?

Organs: Kidneys, Heart, Liver, Lungs, Pancreas and Small Intestine.

Tissue: Corneas, Heart Valves, Skin, Bone, Ligaments, Tendons, Nerves, Fascia and Veins.

Why should you consider registering?

There are thousands of Americans waiting for organs to become available so that they can have a second chance at life. Sadly, a new name is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes. There aren't enough organ donors to meet the growing need, which results in 20 deaths every day.

What if members of your family are opposed to donation?

Talking to your family about your desire to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor and educating them about donation and transplantation are important steps to make them feel comfortable with your decision. Registering your decision with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles is a legal advance directive to be carried out at the time of your death. If you're an adult, it cannot be changed by your family or another individual. For minors under 18 years of age, a parent can revoke or amend a registration at the time of death.

What if you change your mind about donation?

If you change your mind, it's important to remove or amend your registration in the Ohio Donor Registry. You can do so online or by completing and returning an enrollment form after checking the appropriate box to remove or amend your registration.

Will the quality of medical treatments and the efforts to save your life be lessened if emergency or medical personnel know you are willing to be a donor?

No. Doctors and medical professionals will do everything in their power to save a life in an emergency situation. If a doctor were to do less, in any circumstance, he/she would likely lose his/her medical license. These doctors are not concerned about registry status and have nothing to do with the donation process. The organ procurement organization does not become involved until independent physicians involved in the patient's care have determined that all possible efforts to save the patient's life have failed and death is declared.

Is it permissible to sell human organs?

No. The National Organ Transplant Act (Public Law 98-507) prohibits the sale of human organs, corneas and tissue. Violators are subject to fines and imprisonment. Among the many reasons for this rule is the concern of Congress that buying and selling organs might give the wealthy and unfair advantage.

How are recipients matched to donor organs?

Persons waiting for transplants are listed at the transplant center where they plan to have surgery, and they are placed on a national computerized waiting list of potential transplant patients in the United States.

Under contract with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) maintains the national waiting list. UNOS operates the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network and maintains a 24-hour telephone service to aid in matching donor organs with patients on the national waiting list and to coordinate the efforts with transplant centers. When donor organs become available, several factors are taken into consideration in identifying the best-matched recipient(s).

These include medical compatibility of the donor and potential recipient(s) on such characteristics as blood type, weight and age. Urgency of need and length of time on the waiting list are also factors in the allocation process. In general, preference is given to recipients from the same geographic area as the donor, because timing is a critical element in the organ procurement process.

Can rich or famous people "jump" the waiting list to get a transplant faster than others on the list?

No. Matching organs to recipients is done strictly on medical criteria and has nothing to do with notoriety or wealth. The process for matching a recipient with a donor is dependent upon how sick an individual is and the best match for the organ. Occasionally, it may seem that rich or famous individuals receive transplants more often, but that is simply because as a society we pay attention when these people receive transplants and not necessarily when people from the general public receive transplants.