Organ donation: Your questions answered

February 16, 2017

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Becoming an organ donor is one of the most generous things you could ever do. But you might wonder what's involved and why you should consider it. If so, here's the information you need. 

Q: Why is becoming a donor so crucial?

A: Nationwide, 22 people die every day waiting for transplants that can't take place because of a shortage of donated organs. On the positive side: A single organ donor can save up to eight lives.

Q: How can I become a donor?

A: Designate your decision on your driver's license and state donor registry (if available). Talk to your family too, and ask them to carry out your wishes.

Q: Are there age limits for donors?

A: Anyone-regardless of age-is a potential donor. Newborns and senior citizens alike have been donors.

Q: Can I become a donor if I have a medical condition?

A: Chances are, yes. Only a few medical conditions-such as being infected with HIV or having active cancer-absolutely rule you out as a donor. Doctors will examine your organs and determine if they are suitable for donation at the time of your death.

Q: What organs can be donated?

A: The heart, kidneys, lungs, liver, pancreas and intestines.

Q: I've heard I can donate tissues too. Is that correct?

A: Yes, you can donate corneas, the middle ear, skin, heart valves, bone, veins, cartilage, tendons and ligaments.

Q: Are there any costs to my family for donation?

A: No. Your family pays for your medical care and funeral costs-not for organ donation.

Q: How can I learn more about being an organ donor?

A: Go to www.organdonor.gov.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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