How do I Become an Organ Donor?

wiseGEEK Writer

If you want to become an organ donor, you may think this process if very simple. Most drivers’ licenses allow the option of filling out a donor card. The trouble is that if you die, your family doesn’t have to respect your wishes. It’s important to take a few more steps to register for organ donation so that you can make sure you will benefit others by your death.

Some people can not make choices about whether they can become an organ donor.
Some people can not make choices about whether they can become an organ donor.

One thing you should do if you want to become an organ donor is to discuss this desire with your family or the person who would make decisions for you in the event of your death, like a spouse. Be sure to find out how anyone involved would interpret your wishes. If you note that people responsible for you would be unlikely to allow organ donation, you can take steps to ensure you can still donate your organs.

The human liver is one organ that can have a section harvested from a living person.
The human liver is one organ that can have a section harvested from a living person.

First, you can write a letter testifying your desire to be a donor and keep this letter with you at all times. If you want a stronger guarantee, find a member of your family or a close responsible friend to whom you can assign durable power of attorney. For a small fee, you can work with a lawyer to prepare this document and appoint a person who you know will respect your wish to become an organ donor. Follow state and/or country laws regarding requirements for this.

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It may be necessary to make legal arrangements with the help of an attorney to ensure a person's organs are donated upon his death.
It may be necessary to make legal arrangements with the help of an attorney to ensure a person's organs are donated upon his death.

Some people cannot make choices about whether they can become an organ donor. Usually people who are not legal adults don’t have any say in this matter. If you’re a teen and you feel strongly about organ donation, it’s time for a discussion with your parents or guardians.

Instead of donating an organ, some choose to donate blood, platelets, or plasma on a regular basis.
Instead of donating an organ, some choose to donate blood, platelets, or plasma on a regular basis.

Arm yourself with facts about the benefits of organ donation and be sure to know the common myths or untruths about donations that often stop people from allowing organ harvesting. There are many Internet sites dedicated to giving out accurate information, and you may want to do some research to present a clear and factual argument to convince parents. Once you’re an adult, you can sign donor cards and discuss this issue with parents, but note that without a durable power of attorney, next of kin can still override your desire.

Egg harvesting can help infertile women conceive a child.
Egg harvesting can help infertile women conceive a child.

There are many ways to donate needed body fluids or parts before end of life. Some people donate kidneys to family members or even to strangers. Others donate blood, plasma, or platelets on a regular basis. Women may have egg harvesting done to help infertile women, and men can donate sperm. Most people choose to donate at end of life to leave the world having made a difference. There is no need to wait when simple things like blood donation can make a difference today.

Signing up with the registry will ensure that, should the donor not have the donor card on them at the time of death, their organs can still be donated.
Signing up with the registry will ensure that, should the donor not have the donor card on them at the time of death, their organs can still be donated.
An organ recipient and donor must have the same blood type.
An organ recipient and donor must have the same blood type.

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Discussion Comments

comfyshoes

@Balrama -I do think that joining an organ donor registry is a great idea. I think that becoming an organ donor not only saves other people’s lives but it allows you loved ones to know that your death was not in vain.

I think that the fact that you were able to help another person helps them cope better with your death because at least they can take consolation that your organs saved others.

Sometimes they even get to meet the people that benefited from the organ donation. I think that becoming an organ donor is a selfless act that helps many people.

balrama

I used to think signing the back of my license at any time was enough to become an organ donor. In many areas it is wise to be on an organ donation registry when you renew your license.

WiscGirl

I spent years debating if I should sign on that little line on the back of my card. I had fears that I would be left to die so my organs could save someone more important, like a politician.

But I eventually realized I was being silly. Doctors are bound by a Hippocratic oath. And it feels good that I may donate life, even after I am gone.

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