What Are the Requirements for Organ Donation in 2023?
More than 107,000 men, women and children are on the national transplant waiting list. Every 10 minutes a name is added to that waiting list, and it is reported that 17 people die each day waiting for a transplant. These patients rely on people signing up to be an organ donor. Each registered donor can save up to nine lives! While 90% of adults in the United States say they support organ donation, only 60% are signed up on a registry. This is partially because of misconceptions and inaccuracies about organ donation and who is eligible to donate. Below are some rules and requirements to clear up some of those misconceptions.
At what age can someone become an organ donor?
People of all ages should consider themselves potential donors. Newborns and senior citizens in their 90s have been organ donors. More important than your age is the health of your organs. The transplant team will decide at the time of death if donation is possible. If you are signing up to become a living organ donor, you must be at least 18 years old at all transplant centers and some centers require a donor to be 21 or older. Here are two things to keep in mind when signing up to be an organ donor:
- All people over the age of 18 can register themselves to be an organ, eye or tissue donor. When you sign up to be a donor, you can select what you are willing to donate. You can also change your status at any time.
- All people under the age of 18 can still register to be organ donors. However, their parents or legal guardian(s) will have the final say if the occasion arises for organ donation before the age of 18.
Does my ethnicity or race matter when donating organs?
This answer is no. All people are encouraged to be organ donors no matter their race or ethnicity!
Does medical history prevent you from being an organ donor?
Even with an illness or a health condition, you may be able to donate your organs and/or tissue upon death. At the time of death, the appropriate medical professionals will review your medical and social histories to determine whether you can be a donor. With recent advances in transplantation, more people than ever before can be donors. It's best to tell your family your wishes and sign up to be an organ and tissue donor on your driver's license or an official donor document.
If you are signing up to become a living organ donor, it is important to know there are some medical conditions that could prevent you from being a living donor. Some of these medical conditions are uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, hepatitis, infections or HIV.
Can non-United States citizens donate (or receive) organs?
Yes, non-United States citizens who are currently living in the United States can both donate and receive organs. Organs are given to people based on medical need, not citizenship.
How do I sign up to be an organ donor?
It’s easy for you to register to be an organ donor! You can register online at ochsner.org/save9. You can also register at your local Office of Motor Vehicles when you are renewing your driver’s license or state identification card.
If I have my organ donation status on my driver’s license, is that enough?
In addition to listing your status on your driver’s license, we encourage you to make your wishes known with your family. If you signed up as a deceased donor in your state registry and you are over 18, then you have legally authorized your donation, and no one can overrule your consent. If you are under 18, your parents or legal guardian must authorize donation. When your family knows where you stand, they will want to make sure they carry out your wishes.
The bottom line is all people should consider themselves potential organ and tissue donors—regardless of age, health, race or ethnicity.