Published on November 16, 2016

Is organ donation right for you?

Did you know…?

Organ transplant graphic.

More than 3,000 residents of North Carolina are waiting for a life saving transplant and you can help them out by becoming an organ donor. The process is simple and has the potential to save many lives.

While most people know about organ donation, there are still many misconceptions about it. These include:

  • organ donors receive a lesser quality of medical care
  • there is an extra fee associated with being an organ donor
  • that there is an age limit

None of these misconceptions are true.

According to the American Transplant Foundation one deceased donor can save up to 8 lives through organ donation and can enhance more than 100 lives through tissue donation. Although this is a life saving gift, it is normal to have some apprehension about whether or not to make the decision to become an organ donor.

We’ve listed a few general questions with answers about organ donation to help you decide if becoming an organ donor is right for you.

How do I become an organ donor?

There are three ways to register to become an organ donor.

  1. Indicate that you would like to be a donor by requesting that a red heart be placed on your driver’s license at the DMV. This symbol is a legal authorization saying that upon your death you would like to donate your organs, corneas and eyes. It does not include tissue or whole body donation.
  2. Register online at By registering online you can be more specific about which body parts you would like to be donated and which ones you do not want to be donated.
  3. Complete a paper enrollment form which can be obtained by calling 1-800-200-2672.

What organs can be donated?

There are various categories of what can be donated.

  • Organs- the heart, kidneys (2), pancreas, lungs (2), liver, and intestines
  • Tissues- cornea, skin, heart valves, bone, blood vessels, and connective tissue
  • Bone marrow and stem cells
  • Umbilical cord blood
  • Peripheral blood stem cells

Recently, hands and faces have been added to the transplant list.

Are there any costs that the donor’s family have to pay?

No. The family of the organ donor does not pay any fees associated with the cost of the donation. Any costs associated with the donation are sent to the donor recipient and is paid for by their insurance.

How are organs matched with recipient?

Every 10 minutes a person is added to the transplant waiting list. A common myth is that those with money or fame are able to obtain an organ transplant faster. This is untrue, organs are matched up with patients based off of donor recipient’s blood type, body size, severity of recipient’s medical history, and the distance between the organ recipient’s hospital and the donor’s hospital. Each organ varies on how many hours it can survive outside of the body, which can also affect how the organ is matched up.

The National Organ Transplant Act (Public Law 98-507) states that it is illegal to sell human organs and tissues in the United States therefore, money nor influence will affect one’s wait time on the transplant list.

Are there any exceptions to becoming an organ donor?

Anyone can register to become an organ donor regardless of age or medical history.  The transplant team will determine which organs or tissues can be used at the time of your death based on a clinical evaluation, medical history, and other factors. Even if there’s only one organ or tissue that can be used, that’s one life saved or improved.

The decision to become an organ donor is one that is personal and must be taken into great consideration. Organ donation is a gift that can change the lives of others in a phenomenal way. While the need for organs is always the growing, the supply is low. Consider becoming an organ donor and see if this option is right for you.

For more information about organ donations or to register to become an organ donor visit

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