Most people have heard of the “wait list” for those who need a life-saving organ transplant. There is also a list for those who are willing to give the gift of life after they die – the donor registry.
Louisiana Organ Donor Registry
Louisiana has one of the oldest donor registries in the U.S. and over 2.5 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.
That information is securely sent over to the Louisiana Organ Procurement Agency (LOPA) who houses and maintains the Louisiana registry.
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, in either the Louisiana (if you are a current resident of Louisiana) or national registry. At the time of your death, LOPA will assess if you might be able to donate and look to see if you 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.
Living Organ Donors
The donor registry is only for deceased donors, but some people are interested in becoming living donors (primarily kidney donors since most of us are born with a spare!). There is currently not a state or national living donor registry.
We encourage anyone interested to contact the organ transplant center nearest them, or if it’s to give to someone they know, 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 “I’m too sick or too old to donate” and many people remove themselves from the registry prematurely. Organ donation has different criteria than blood donation or bone marrow donation, so we encourage everyone to leave themselves in their state or the national donor registry, and let medical professionals determine their ability to donate at their time of death.