With all of the different types of donation out there today, it can get confusing as to who does what. We often receive questions about bone marrow donation, blood donation, whole body donation and more.
So today, we’re here to answer some of your questions about the different types of donation and get you the resources you need to make educated decisions about what you want to donate before and after death.
What did I sign up for when I got the heart on my driver license?
When you say Yes at the driver license office while obtaining your permit, license or state ID, you are signing up to be an organ, eye and tissue donor after death. That means that if you are eligible to be a donor at the time of your death, you may be able to donate up to six organs (heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, small intestines) and six different types of tissue (corneas, heart valves, skin, veins, tendons, bones). Under the donor registry, organs and tissues are recovered for transplantation, but if an organ or tissue is not able to be transplanted after recovery, it may go to research. This helps increase the possibility of advances in medical science.
How can I sign up to donate a kidney to my family member?
This sounds like you might be interested in being a living donor! A living donor can give one kidney, up to 60% of their liver (don’t worry, it regenerates!), or a part of one lobe of the lung, pancreas and small intestines. If you have a loved one who is in need of an organ transplant and you would like to donate, thank you for your generosity! You will need to work with the recipient’s transplant center to be evaluated and determine if you are a match. If you are interested in donating to one of the more than 100,000 people on the national transplant waiting list, thank you for considering non-directed donation! We encourage you to research a transplant center near you to learn more about the process. We have information about the Colorado transplant centers at DonateLifeColorado.org/livingdonation.
If I can’t donate blood, can I be an organ and tissue donor?
There is a possibility, so don’t rule yourself out! The criteria for donating organs and tissue after death is different from the criteria to donate blood while you are alive. Many things that may rule you out as a blood donor will not rule out organ donation. As advances in medical science continue to change, the criteria for donation also changes. What may be true now, may not be true at the time of your death. If you have the desire to sign up to be an organ, eye and tissue donor after death, why not do it? All potential donors go through a medical evaluation at the time of death so let the medical professionals make that determination in the future. Donating blood saves lives too! If you are healthy and able to do so, contact Vitalant or an organization near you.
I’m on the bone marrow donor registry, does Donor Alliance do that too?
It’s great that you’ve signed up to save a life now! Donor Alliance currently does not recover bone marrow as a tissue after death. To learn more about marrow donation, check out Be The Match and Gift of Life Marrow Registry, US-based organizations that maintain bone marrow registries.
How does whole body donation work?
Many people today are interested in donating their body to science for medical education and research purposes, also known as whole body donation. This is separate and distinct from the Donate Life Colorado Organ and Tissue Donor Registry. We encourage you to do your research before you pick an institution. Some institutions allow you to be organ, eye or tissue donor before whole body donation and some do not. We also recommend that you check to see if they are ‘AATB accredited’. The American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) has an accreditation process that many Organ Procurement Organizations and Tissue Banks go through in order to maintain consistent standards for the recovery process of tissues. If an organization that accepts whole body donation goes through this process, they are held to the same standards.
We hope this has helped clear up some confusion about the different types of donation. If you ever have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at Donor Alliance!
As always, remember that you can sign up to be an organ, eye and tissue donor online anytime at DonateLifeColorado.org.