In the United States, there are more than 120,000 people waiting for life-saving organ donation. And each year, the number of people on the waiting list continues to grow. National Organ Donor Day, observed each year on February 14, is a day to increase awareness about organ donation and the lives that can be saved.
The science of organ transplantation has made great strides in recent years. However, finding organs is still a challenge — there is a critical shortage of organs while the number of people waiting to receive them is rising. More than 125 million people have registered as organ donors, but only about 3 in 1,000 can actually become donors when they die. One organ donor can save as many as eight people.
While most organ and tissue donations occur after the donor has died, some organs (including a kidney or part of a liver or lung) and tissues can be donated while the donor is alive. There are about as many living donors every year as there are deceased donors.
How Do I Become a Donor?
What Can Be Donated?
The list of organs and tissues that can be successfully transplanted continues to grow. So does your ability to save and enhance lives as a donor. What can be donated?
How Much Does It Cost to Donate Organs?
There is no cost to donors or their families for organ, eye, or tissue donation.
Who Manages the Distribution of Organs?
The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) maintains the national Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. Through the UNOS, organ donors are matched to waiting recipients 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Patients are matched to organs based on a number of factors, including blood and tissue type, medical urgency, the recipient’s time on the waiting list and geographical location.
People of any age, including the very young and the very old, can be donors. Even with a medical condition, donation may be possible. Signing up on your state registry means that someday you could save lives as a donor—by leaving behind the gift of life. When you register, most states let you choose what organs and tissues you want to donate, and you can update your status at any time.