Frequently Asked Questions


Signing up as an organ, eye and tissue donor means you have made the decision to donate your organs, eyes and tissues at the time of your death. Your decision to be a donor takes priority over your family’s preferences, so be sure and discuss your decision with loved ones.

Get the facts on organ, eye and tissue donation

Who can be an organ, eye and tissue donor?

Anyone of any age or with any kind of medical history can choose to sign up to save lives through donation. Your health, age and lifestyle should not be factors in your decision to help others in the event of your death. Even people with chronic medical conditions and infectious diseases may be able to donate. Which organs and tissue can actually be used will be determined at the time of your death. Don’t rule yourself out; you can save lives!


What can be donated?

The heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, small intestine and pancreas are organs that can be donated. Transplantable tissue includes: bone to prevent amputation; heart valves to replace defective or diseased valves; skin to act as a temporary covering for burn victims or those with severe wounds; corneas to restore sight; and ligaments and tendons to repair injured joints. Just one donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation and save and heal more than 75 lives through eye and tissue donation!

What can be donated?

Does donation affect funeral plans?

No, an open casket funeral is possible as donation does not limit funeral or burial arrangements. The body is treated with great respect and dignity throughout the donation 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 time required for the donation process varies depending on the organs and tissues recovered, and is generally completed within 24 to 48 hours. The recovery organization communicates with the family and/or funeral home during this time frame. 
Does donation affect funeral plans?

Are there any costs to my family for donation?

No, your donation is a gift. There is no cost to the donor’s family or estate for organ and tissue donation. Recovery organizations assume 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. Once a transplant occurs, these costs are reimbursed by transplant centers, and the transplant center, in turn, will bill the recipient’s insurance plan. 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.

Are there any costs to my family for donation?

Will my decision to become an organ, eye and tissue donor affect the quality of my medical care?

No. Saving your life comes first. Organ and tissue donation takes place only after all efforts to save your life have been exhausted and death has been legally declared. The doctors working to save your life are entirely separate from the medical team involved in recovering organs and tissues.

Will my decision to become an organ, eye and tissue donor affect the quality of my medical care?

Does my religion support organ and tissue donation?

All major religions support organ, eye and tissue donation and view it as a final act of love and generosity.

Can donor and recipient families meet?

Facilitation of requests for sharing of information are guided by respect for the confidentiality of donor families and recipients. Communication processes differ after organ, eye and tissue donation. Within a few weeks after organ donation occurs, the donor family will be notified of general information about the recipient(s), including age range, gender and residential region. Upon request, correspondence between donor families and recipients is facilitated by the recovery organization and transplant center in a way that ensures donor and recipient confidentiality.
Because one tissue donor may help many recipients over a more lengthy time frame, it is not possible to provide specifics initially.Communication with a donor family can be initiated by a recipient, and the recovery organization facilitates that process. In organ, eye and tissue donation, if correspondence continues over time and both parties agree to disclose identity, it may be possible for donor families and recipients to communicate directly. If both parties wish, people can meet each other in person, while others may be more comfortable communicating without direct contact. Either party may decline to correspond or meet for various reasons.
Can donor and recipient families meet?

Does a person have to die to become an organ donor?

No. Living donation is another incredible way you can help save the life of someone waiting for an organ transplant. Through living donation, a living person can donate a kidney or part of the liver, lung, intestine or pancreas to another person in need of a transplant. Living donation is not part of signing up to be a organ, eye and tissue donor and should be discussed directly with a transplant center. For more information, see the resources page for a list of local transplant centers.

Does a person have to die to become an organ donor?

Questions About Signing up to be a Donor

Can I take my name off the registry?

Yes. To remove your name from the registry, select ‘Change my status to Non-Registered’ on the online form or send a request to remove your name in writing to the Colorado or Wyoming Donor Registry at 200 Spruce Street, Suite 200, Denver, CO 80230. Be sure to include your full name, date of birth, mailing address, driver’s license number, email address and signature. Once your communication is received, you will receive a confirmation message via email or postal mail.

What steps must I take to become an organ and tissue donor?

Simply register your decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor on your state’s donor registry by saying “yes” at the Driver LicenseOffice or signing up online. No further legal documentation is necessary. Most importantly, be sure to discuss your decision with your family.

Is saying Yes at the Driver License Office enough?

Yes. Once you’ve said yes at the Driver License Office there is no need to sign up through any other mechanism, unless you change your decision.If you’ve signed up through another mechanism and you are asked about registry status at the Driver License Office, it’s important to say Yes as your most recent decision will be followed. By signing up on the registry, your decision to donate is stored in a secure, confidential database. Should your death result in the opportunity for you to be a donor, an official record of your donor designation will be readily available and your decision to donate will be respected.

If I have an advance directive, should I also register, or will my advance directive be enough?

You should register. Due to the rapid and emotional nature of events surrounding sudden death, families often do not have time to check legal documents prior to being approached about donation. Without enrolling on the registry, your decision may not be expressed. However, since the registry is viewed in all potential donation cases, we are able to share proof of registration with family members at the time donation is discussed, ensuring your family is informed and your decision is carried out.

Is there an age limit to sign up on the Donate Life Colorado Organ and Tissue Donor Registry?

All residents who are at least 18 years of age are able to register their authorization to donate specific or all organs and tissues upon their death. Children between the ages of 13 and 17 can join the registry; however, until the designated donor is 18 years old, their parents (or legal guardian)will make the final decision about organ and tissue donation.

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 years old and younger. Until registrants and non-registrants alike are 18 years old, their parents (or legal guardian) will make the final decision about organ and tissue donation.

Does my registration grant authorization for whole body donation?

The process of donating your whole body to science for research or medical education is a completely separate process outside of the Colorado Donor Registry. In many cases, both can occur. Even if you have chosen to donate your whole body to science or medical education, you should still register here for the possibility of having organs and tissues be used for transplantation when possible.

Can I specify which organs and tissues I donate?

You may opt out of donating specific organs and/or tissue while signing up online. Simply state your specification under the“Additional Information” section located near the end of the online registration form. To avoid any ambiguity, make your comments brief and clear.

Is it possible to restrict my donation from any specific group?

Federal law does not allow you to restrict your donation to or from specific classes of individuals. Donation is an altruistic gift that is allocated to those most in need.

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?

It is legal to make a “directed donation” of an organ to a specific individual who is actively listed on the National Organ Transplant Wait List (organs may not be directed to a specified group). Directed donation is addressed with the legal next of kin at the time of donation so be sure and discuss with your loved ones.

How do people in other states sign up? Is there a national registry?

All states in the U.S. honor individual state registries. If you signed up as a donor via the state donor registry through the Driver License Office, there is no need to register elsewhere as registry status is checked through your state of residence. All matters concerning organ and tissue donation are under the jurisdiction of each state’s respective laws. Joining the Donate LifeAmerica Centralized Registry is a positive step to reaffirm your decision, just be sure and say “Yes” each time you renew your driver license or state ID as your most recent decision is valid. For information on how to become a donor in other states, visit

If someone has specified in his or her will how long they want to remain on ventilated-support, will this affect the donation process?

Organ donation is possible when a person has signed a do not resuscitate order (DNR). Staff of the local organ procurement organization that facilitates the donation process, for example Donor Alliance in Colorado, will communicate with the family to ensure their loved one’s end-of-life preferences are followed and they are able to give the gift of life. In the case of registered brain-dead donors, federal law requires that a patient’s designation as a donor supersede DNR status. Processes necessary to evaluate and manage the lifesaving gift of donation therefore take priority over a DNR.

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 multidisciplinary team of doctors, transplant surgeons, and medical professionals makes the decision as to whether a patient is a suitable candidate, and whether or not to list the patient 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 improvement after the transplant takes place.

How can I be sure my information is kept confidential?

State law prohibits registry information from being sold or shared with any company or government agency. Registry status is only accessed at the time of death and by those agencies who are directly involved in the organ, eye and tissue donation process. The information of all residents, including undocumented residents who decide to register as organ, eye and tissue donors will be kept confidential.

Become a Donor

By joining the Donate Life Colorado Donor Registry, you can be someone’s hero. One heroic choice can save and heal lives.

Sign up Today

For further questions regarding organ, eye and tissue donation, please contact the federally-designated, non-profit organ procurement organization covering Colorado, Donor Alliance at 303-329-4747 or