Organ donation comprises of surgically removing a healthy and useful organ from a living or dead person’s body. It is then transplanted into the body of a patient who requires a replacement organ in order to live. Apart from organs, tissues can also be transplanted. Kidneys are one organ that can actually be removed from a living person, usually without any ill effects. Although many people express that they would like to donate their organs, in reality, very few do simply because they don’t know enough about it.

It is usually a good idea for donors to discuss organ donation with their families, so that family members are aware of their decision in case of a sudden death. If a donor succumbs to death, or even a stroke or severe head injury, the medics do everything they can to keep the body alive, even if the patient has been declared technically brain dead. The next step is for the hospital to get in touch with the organ procurement organization (OPO). This organization confirms that the patient is a registered donor and sends a representative directly to the hospital. There, the representative will double check the patient’s donor card. If there is none available, they will consult with the patient’s family to determine whether consent will be granted for organ donation. The OPO goes through their list of recipients to determine the best match for the organs. In this hospital, the body continues to be artificially maintained while the surgeons carefully and respectfully remove the organs. They are meticulously preserved and packaged, and then sent as quickly as possible to the recipient. The surgeons finish by neatly sewing the incisions so that the deceased patient can be prepared for the funeral. The issue of timing and efficiency are of the utmost importance since the surgeons need to ensure that they remove the organs without damaging them, while also delivering them quickly enough to the recipient. The recipients are usually already prepared and waiting for the new organ, so that it can be transplanted as soon as it arrives. The waiting period for organ transplants can sometimes be quite significant for potential recipients. Another major complication is that in some cases, the recipient’s body may reject the organ. For these reasons, OPOs and hospitals have to be extremely careful to find the most viable organs for a recipient.

Organ donation first starts when a person makes the decision to become a donor. This process can be done quite easily when obtaining or renewing your driver’s license. Each state has an organ donation registry. After people sign up, their consent is added to their driver’s license. As an extra precaution, donors should also add this information to their will.

Browse through these resources to learn more about organ donation and how to register.

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