Get The Facts

The Truth About Donation

Am I too old or unhealthy to donate?

No. Many people believe they can’t donate because of their medical history or age, but in reality, anyone can be considered for donation.  At the time of death, donation professionals will review a person’s medical and personal background to see if donation is possible. The oldest donor was 101 years old. That is why it is so important to register; anyone could end up being a hero.

Will my decision to be a donor affect my medical care if I am injured or sick and admitted to the hospital?

No. Healthcare professionals will do everything they can to save your life The doctors and nurses who take care of you are not involved in transplantation and organ donation. That’s the law. If you are admitted to the hospital, you will be taken care of no matter what your donation decision is. The team in charge of your care doesn’t even have access to see if you’re a registered donor.

It is only after all efforts have been exhausted and death has been declared that organ, tissue and eye donation would even be considered.

LifeNet Health is YOUR Organ Procurement Organization and Tissue Bank. We facilitate donations throughout Virginia.

If I register to be a donor, how can I be sure that I’ll really be dead when organs and tissues are recovered?

Donation only happens after a doctor who has nothing to do with organ transplants says a patient has died. In order to donate organs, a patient must either be declared brain dead — meaning the entire brain has died.

Do famous or wealthy people get transplants quicker?
  • No. The computerized system that matches organ donors to organ recipients does not include any information about a patient’s wealth or fame. It looks at where the patient is located, how sick they are, how long they have been on the waiting list, and whether they are a good genetic match for the donated organ. That system is run by the United Network for Organ Sharing in Richmond, Virginia.
Is donation against my religion?

All major religions support organ, tissue, and eye donation and consider donation the greatest gift one can give. Transplantation is consistent with the life preserving traditions of these faiths. The donation of life is an act of human kindness in keeping with religious teachings.

Is there a black market for organ donation? Can I get paid for my organs?

No. It is illegal to buy or sell human organs, and strict regulations prevent any type of “black market” in the United States. In addition, a national governing body reviews every organ donation and transplant.

Are TV and movie stories about donation true?

In general, the TV and movie industry sensationalizes and distorts the facts about donation and transplantation. These shows are usually meant to entertain rather than to inform.

If there is not an organ match when I die, can the surgeon take my organs and store them until they find a match?

No. Your internal organs can only be outside of the body for a short amount of time, and there is no way to preserve them to be used later.

If I donate my entire body to science, can I still be an organ, eye and tissue donor?

Not at this time. Currently, a body that is donated for scientific research under The State Anatomical Program cannot be used for organ, eye and tissue donation, except in the case of corneas. However, you should still register your decision to be an organ, tissue and eye donor in the Donor Registry in case your body is not accepted in the Anatomical Program. Your family can also ask the recovery agency at the time of donation if there may be other whole body donation options after organ, eye and tissue donation has occurred. Organizations that offer those kinds of services must be approved by Donate Life Virginia or their activity is illegal in the Commonwealth.

What is the difference between living and deceased donations?

A living donation is when a health person decides to donate all or part of an organ to help someone who needs a transplant. This is usually a friend, family member, or loved-one, but some living donors give to strangers purely out of kindness. A kidney and parts of livers, lungs, intestines and pancreata can be donated from one living person to another.

Deceased donation occurs when an organ is recovered from a patient who died and was a registered donor or loved-ones authorize the donation.