Understanding Donation

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Frequently Asked Questions

If your question is not answered here, contact us.

Who can donate?

Anyone can be a potential organ and tissue donor, regardless of age or medical condition. You’re never too old to be on the registry.

Can I donate organs if I cannot donate blood or have a chronic medical condition?

Don’t rule yourself out because of any health condition including diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, or because you may not be eligible to donate blood. Eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis at the time of death.

Will medical staff still make every effort to save my life if I am an organ donor?

The first priority for medical personnel is to save the lives of their patients. Organ and tissue donation is not discussed until every life saving option is exhausted and death has been declared or is imminent. The doctors and nurses at the medical center are completely separate from those who work for the organ and tissue recovery organizations. Intermountain Donor Services (IDS) is the only agency that has access to the information on the Utah Donor Registry.

What is the difference between organ and tissue donation?

Organ donation can only occur when someone has been declared brain dead, or in some instances, after cardiac death. Because brain death is not a common occurrence, viable organ donors are rare. Tissue donation (eyes, bone, skin, veins, heart valves, tendons, etc.) can occur even after the heart has ceased beating. Most deaths are potential tissue donors (depending on a medical, social history, etc.). Organ donors can also be tissue donors.

How much does donation cost the donor family?

Nothing. There is no charge to the donor, the donor’s family, or the donor’s estate. After death has been declared, all donation related charges are billed to the organ procurement organization, including all laboratory tests, surgical fees, and doctor’s fees.

If I donate can I have an open casket funeral?

Yes. Organ and tissue donation involves standard surgical techniques, and the suture lines are located where clothing will cover them. Prosthetic devices are used with bone and eye donation to maintain body form. Organ and tissue donors may opt for open casket funerals, depending on family wishes and original injuries.

Can I choose what is donated?

Yes. You can specify what you would like to donate when you register or edit your donor information online.

How is it determined who gets priority for transplants?

When a donated organ becomes available, a list is generated from United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) which ranks recipients based on severity of illness, length of time on the waiting list, size compatibility of organs, blood type, tissue type, and proximity to donor (because of time constraints on donated organs). Things such as income, occupation, gender, and race are not considered when an organ is placed.

Why are there still so many people needing organ transplants?

Only about 2% of deaths meet brain death criteria and have the potential to become organ donors. With new technology and medical procedures, more lives can be saved through organ transplantation. Many of the people waiting for a transplant are children, and few adult donors can donate to children due to organ size. The number of organs donated hasn’t been able to keep pace with the need and thousands of people die every year on the waiting list. When you consider that one organ donor can save up to nine lives through organ donation and improve dozens more through tissue donation, the importance of becoming a donor is much more apparent.

What do major religions say about donation?

Most religions support and consider donation an act of charity. If you have any questions about the beliefs of your religion regarding donation, discuss them with your spiritual leader.  The U. S. Department of Health and Human Services has compiled a list of statements from major religions regarding donation. The New Jersey Sharing Network put together an informative video regarding the position of major religions on the subject of organ donation. Click here to view this video.

How are organs and tissues recovered?

Organ and tissue recovery is performed in a sterile surgical facility using qualified surgical personnel and protocols. All donations are treated with respect and dignity.

How can I register?

There are three easy ways to become an organ, eye and tissue donor.

1.  Click the “Sign Me Up” button located on the top ribbon of this web page.

2.  Download an application and mail to:

The Utah Donor Registry
230 S. 500 E. #490
Salt Lake City, Utah 84102

3.  Say “YES” on your driver license or state ID card. Find the Utah Driver License Division online at https://dld.utah.gov/.