Working together. Saving lives.

Facts about organ donation

Despite continuing efforts at public education, misconceptions and inaccuracies about donation persist. Learn these facts to better understand organ, eye and tissue donation:

Fact: A national computer system and strict standards are in place to ensure ethical and fair distribution of organs. Organs are matched by blood and tissue typing, organ size, medical urgency, waiting time and geographic location.

Fact: People of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential donors. Your medical condition at the time of death will determine what organs and tissue can be donated.

Fact: Organs and tissues that can be donated include: heart, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, liver, intestines, corneas, skin, tendons, bone, and heart valves.

Fact: Even if you have indicated your wishes on your drivers’ license, state donor registry or a donor card, share your decision with your family so they know your wishes.

Fact: Organ donation is consistent with the beliefs of most major religions. Learn more >

Fact: An open-casket funeral is possible for organ and tissue donors.

Fact: There is no cost to the donor’s family or estate for organ and tissue donation.

Fact: If you are sick or injured and admitted to the hospital, the number one priority is to save your life. Organ donation can only be considered after brain death has been declared by a physician.

Fact: Information about an organ donor is only released to the recipient if the family of the donor requests or agrees to it. Otherwise, a patient’s privacy is maintained for both donor families and recipients.

Fact: Living donation increases the existing organ supply.

Fact: Donors are needed for all races and ethnic groups. Transplant success rates increase when organs are matched between members of the same ethnic background.

Story of hope

Zion and Zhania Coleman, recipients
Healthy smiles made possible by lifesaving organ transplants.
Read more stories

Facts about the “Waiting List”


When a patient is “added to the list,” a transplant hospital adds a patient’s medical information into UNOS’ computer system. The patient is not immediately placed on a ranked list. When a deceased organ donor is identified, UNOS’ computer system generates a ranked list of transplant candidates who are suitable to receive each organ. Factors affecting ranking may include blood type, tissue type, medical urgency, waiting time, expected benefit, geography and other criteria.

Learn more about organ matching

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