“Am I registered as an organ donor?” While this question may seem straightforward, 90% of U.S. adults say they support organ donation but only 60% are signed up on a registry list.
Understanding whether you are an organ donor or not is a life-saving matter. When people meet the criteria to potentially receive a life-saving organ transplant, they are added to a national wait list and database which matches available organs to patients. There is also a second list of those who are willing to give the gift of life after they die, which is the donor registry list.
Louisiana Organ Donor Registry
Louisiana has one of the oldest donor registries in the U.S. and over 2.6 million people have made the decision to be an organ donor in our state. Most people have registered at the Office of Motor Vehicles and have the little red heart on their license or state ID.
When someone registers with the Office of Motor Vehicles, their information is securely sent to Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA) which is the local organization that houses and maintains the Louisiana registry. However, with today’s technology, it is easier than ever to register online here or by using this health app on your iPhone.
National Organ Donor Registry
It took a lot longer to establish a national donor registry, which was released in 2016 under registerme.org. You only have to register your decision once either in Louisiana if you are a current resident or through the national registry. At the time of death, LOPA will assess if the candidate may be able to donate by checking to see if they are in the state and national registry.
The registry is legal consent for donation, but it’s important to let your family or medical power of attorney know your wishes because they will have to answer some questions about your medical history before you can become a donor. Organ donation officials recommend that people clarify their wishes with their immediate family members in addition to registering to avoid any confusion.
Living Organ Donors
The donor registry is only for deceased donors, but some people are also interested in becoming living donors — primarily kidney donors since most of us are born with a spare! Currently there is no state or national living donor registry. We encourage anyone who is interested in becoming a living donor to contact their nearest organ transplant center. It may also be possible to give an organ to someone you know through that individual’s transplant center. Living donors can stay on the donor registry because there are other organs they can donate after they die.
Who Can Be an Organ Donor?
One of the biggest misconceptions we hear in the community is that someone is too sick or too old to donate. Many people remove themselves from the registry prematurely! People of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential donors. Organ donation has different criteria than blood donation or bone marrow donation, so we encourage everyone to leave themselves on their state or the national donor registry, and let medical professionals determine their ability to donate at their time of death.
A registered organ donor can save many lives. Learn more at Ochsner.org/save9