How to become an Organ Donor

How to become an organ donor. SewCream. Gift of life Michigan

Did you know that more than 106,000 Americans are currently on the organ transplant waiting list? For everyone who decides to become an organ donor, up to 75 individual lives can be dramatically improved– think of the incredible impact you could have by becoming an organ donor.

If you’ve thought about learning how to sign up for the Organ Donor Registry, you’ve already taken the first step toward saving lives. Registering is straightforward, takes just a few moments, and can generally be completed online. And although many people think of donation as something that happens after they pass away, living donations are extremely common. Regardless of which route you choose, registering as an organ donor is a decision that can change your life and the lives of countless others.

How Do You Become an Organ Donor?

Gift of Life Michigan helps individuals honor life through organ and tissue donation, facilitating the process via an easy online registration platform. 

You can begin the process by visiting the Michigan Secretary of State’s website and clicking the button to join the Organ Donor Registry mi.gov/organdonation

If you do not have a Michigan driver’s license or state ID, you can sign up on the national Donate Life Donor Registry at RegisterMe.org/MI.

In addition to signing up for the MI Organ Donor Registry, we recommend informing your family of your decision and documenting it in your Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare. 

What Is Living Organ Donation?

In addition to signing up on the organ donor registry for end-of-life donations, you might also consider making a living donation. Qualifying donors can donate a kidney or a portion of their lung or liver and typically live long, healthy lives after the donation. 

A living donor usually donates to a close family member or friend. However, many people choose to make anonymous living donations, often known as “altruistic living donations.”

What Is the Process for Donating an Organ?

Understandably, many people have questions about the process for organ donation, including: 

  • How does organ donation work?
  • What happens after my death if I am a registered organ donor?
  • How do I donate a family member’s organs if they are not registered?

The donation process can be somewhat complex, primarily to ensure the safety, well-being, and respect of all involved. But if you or someone you love is an organ donor, you can generally expect the process to look like this:

  1. The patient is admitted to the hospital, and every attempt is made to save their life. However, despite doctors’ best efforts, the patient cannot be saved and is declared medically brain dead (or a circulatory death is declared). 
  2. Gift of Life Michigan receives a referral and is called upon to evaluate the patient’s viability for organ and tissue donation.
  3. The Michigan Organ Donor Registry determines if the patient is a registered organ donor. If the individual is not on the organ donor list, the family will be offered the opportunity to donate the patient’s organs/tissues.
  4. If authorization is completed, the patient is kept on a ventilator and stabilized with fluids and medications. Various tests are administered, and an interview with next-of-kin is conducted to determine organ health.
  5. Potential recipients are identified based on blood type, tissue type, size, and other key factors, ensuring that the donor and recipient are a medical match.
  6. The donor may remain at the hospital or be transferred to Gift of Life Michigan’s surgical center, located in Ann Arbor. 
  7. Before surgery begins, a moment of silence is held to honor the donor. Then, organs are removed and adequately cooled and preserved to prepare for transport. The surgical teams immediately return to their transplant hospitals to begin the recipients’ surgeries.
  8. After organ donation, tissue and eye donation may take place.

The process of donating organs usually takes between 24 and 36 hours. Afterward, the donor is released to their family, and funeral arrangements can proceed.

Becoming an Organ Donor: Frequently Asked Questions

Who Pays for Organ Donation Surgery?

In Michigan, Gift of Life covers all costs associated with the organ/tissue donation process. 

If you are making a living donation, the recipient’s health insurance typically covers the surgery and recovery. Various nonprofits can also help cover costs. 

Will My Family Know Who Received My Donation?

Yes. Gift of Life provides basic information to the family so they can know a little about the recipient of their loved one’s gift(s). Your family may also be able to write letters to your recipients.

Are There Restrictions as to Who Can Sign up for Organ Donation?

No. There are no limits or restrictions on who can join the Donor Registry. Anyone interested can sign up, regardless of health history, age, or religion. 

Do Doctors Work as Hard to Save the Lives of Organ Donors?

Perhaps one of the biggest myths associated with organ donation is the mistaken belief that doctors will not work as hard to save a life if their patient is an organ donor. However, this is entirely false. Doctors are professionally dedicated, morally obligated, and legally bound to work equally hard to save every patient’s life, regardless of organ donor status. 

Get a Roadmap to Organ Donation with Gift of Life Michigan

Becoming an organ donor is a powerful decision that enables you to change the lives of others. Organ donations have saved more than 9,000 lives in the past ten years in Michigan alone.

For more information about how to become an organ donor, including common myths, connect with the team at Gift of Life Michigan today. 

 

Image by SewCream/ shuttterstock.com

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