Frequently Asked Questions
If I already have the heart on my driver’s license or state ID do I still need to register online?
No! If there is a ‘♥’ on the front of your driver’s license or state ID you are already enrolled in the organ and tissue donor registry and there is no need to submit the online registry form unless your information has changed. If your name or address has changed, please fill out and re-submit the online form.
What steps must I take to become an organ and tissue donor?
Simply register your decision on your state’s donor registry (for Colorado residents, click here, and for Wyoming residents, visit www.DonateLifeWyoming.org), indicate your desire to be an organ and tissue donor on your driver’s license or other legal document, and most importantly, discuss the decision with your family so they know to honor your wish to give the gift of life after your death.
What does joining the Donate Life Organ & Tissue Donor Registry mean?
Every individual has the right to decide to register to donate their organs and tissues at the time of their death. On October 15, 2001, recovery agencies in Colorado began enforcing a law enacted by the Colorado State Legislature in 1998. In Wyoming recovery agencies began enforcing a law enacted by the Wyoming State Legislature in April 2003 on July 1, 2003. This law established a centralized, confidential online registry for every Colorado and Wyoming resident who has made the decision to be organ and tissue donors. Download Fact Sheet.
Being on the Donate Life Colorado or Wyoming Registry means that you have elected to have all of your organs and tissues made available for transplant and/or research at the time of your death. It is good to communicate your decision to be a donor with your family.
Can I register my children?
Due to federal privacy laws prohibiting the collection of personal information for individuals under age 13, the registry is unable to accept registrations for children 12 and under. Until registrants and non-registrants alike are 18 years old, their parents (or legal guardians) will make the final decision about organ and tissue donation at the appropriate time.
If a family member is in need of an organ at the time of my death, can I specify that he or she is to receive it?
“Directed donation” of an organ to a specific individual is legal, but it must be done at the time of donation (organs may not be directed to a specified group of individuals). Directed donation is best supported by an advance directive or may be granted by next of kin at the time of donation.
What if my family opposes my decision to donate?
Your decision to donate takes priority over your family’s preferences. Once you sign up on the Registry, your donor designation grants authorization for organ and tissue recovery. Should you be in the position to donate, your next of kin will be presented with documentation of your registration but will not have the power to override your decision. It is important to tell your family, loved ones and healthcare power of attorney of your wishes so that they may be prepared to cooperate with the health care team about your medical history.
How can I be sure my information is kept confidential?
As a state-authorized public service, Donor Alliance adheres to the most up-to-date guidelines to keep all personal information confidential. It is absolutely vital that the organization identifies individual registrants with 100% certainty if they should ever be in a position to be an actual organ or tissue donor. We would never want to confuse a patient who is not registered with someone who is. We assure you that every precaution is in place to protect the information from identity thieves. Of the 40+ state donor registries now in operation, there are no reported problems with unauthorized access to personal information.
Does my religion support donation?
All major religions in the United States support organ, eye and tissue donation and view it as a selfless act of charity and goodwill.
Does saying “yes” to becoming a donor affect the medical treatment that I receive?
No. Medical care is not affected in any way by your status as a registered donor. Every attempt is made to save your life. In fact, patients must receive the most aggressive lifesaving care in order to be potential organ donors. If a patient’s heart stops during lifesaving efforts, organs cannot be transplanted. Organ and tissue donation is only considered after a physician has pronounced a person dead and family has been consulted.
What about factors such as age or pre-existing medical conditions?
You are never too old or unhealthy to register to be a donor. In the event you are in a position to be a donor, medical specialists will evaluate your medical history to determine your suitability to donate. Organs and tissue are tested for infectious diseases, including hepatitis, AIDS and other viral infections before they are transplanted.
Does a person have to die to become an organ donor?
No. Living people can donate a kidney or part of the liver or lung, although, Donor Alliance only recovers organs from deceased donors.
Does donation affect funeral arrangements?
The body is treated with great respect and dignity throughout the process, and the donor’s appearance following donation still allows for an open-casket funeral. Once the organ and/or tissue recovery process is completed, the body is released to the donor’s family. The entire donation process is usually completed within 24 to 36 hours, and the family may then proceed with funeral arrangements.
Is my family ever charged for donation?
No. There is no cost to the donor’s family for organ and tissue donation. Donor Alliance, a non-profit organization, assumes all costs associated with recovering and processing organs and tissues for transplant once death has been declared and authorization is confirmed through the donor registry, or from the family in lieu of registration; these costs are never passed on to the donor family. Costs are reimbursed by transplant centers, once a transplant is completed, and the center, in turn, will bill private and public insurance plans. Hospital expenses incurred before the donation of organs or tissue in attempt to save the donor’s life and funeral expenses remain the responsibility of the donor’s family.
I think I may need an organ transplant. How do I get added to the list?
The process of joining the UNOS National Organ Transplant Waiting List begins with your physician referring you to a transplant center for evaluation. A committee of doctors, transplant surgeons, and other hospital staff makes the decision as to whether a patient is a suitable candidate, and whether or not to be placed on the waiting list for an organ transplant. This decision is based on the status of the patient’s health, his or her medical and social history, and the expectation of their stability after the transplant takes place.
Can donor and recipient families meet?
Soon after donation occurs, a donor family will be notified with general information about the recipient(s), including age, gender, occupation and state of residence. The identities of all parties remain confidential through this communication process. Correspondence between donor families and recipients is facilitated by Donor Alliance and transplant centers in a way that ensures donor and recipient confidentiality. If correspondence continues over time, it may be possible for donor families and recipients to communicate directly. If both parties agree, people can meet each other in person, while others may be more comfortable communicating without direct contact. It is also possible that either party may decline to correspond or meet for various reasons.
Where can I go to find more information about organ and tissue donation?
To learn more about organ and tissue donation, visit: