Who is in charge of the organ donation process?
The federally chosen, non-profit, organ procurement organizations (OPO) are in charge of the process. Missouri has two that serve different parts of the state; Mid-America Transplant and Midwest Transplant Network. Missouri also has a tissue bank, Saving Sight. The agencies are in charge of and make the donation process easy. The recovery and transplant process is regulated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a Division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
What happens to my donated organs and tissue?
Patients receive organs and tissues based upon blood type, length of time on the waiting list, severity of illness, and other medical criteria.
- A national allocation system ensures the fair distribution of organs in the United States. Social and financial data are not part of the allocation system.
- People eligible to receive organs are identified based upon many factors including blood and tissue typing, medical urgency (severity of illness), time on waiting list, other medical criteria, and geographical location.
- Race, gender, age, ethnicity, income, or celebrity status are not factors in determining who receives an organ or tissue transplant. Additionally, the law strictly prohibits buying and selling of organs for transplantation.
- Donated organs, eyes and tissues are given to people who need them the most. Typically, at the local level, then the regional level, and finally all over the country. Under certain circumstances organs, eyes and tissues may be sent out of the country to help patients in need.
- Buying and selling organs is against the law!
What is a direct donation?
A request by a donor or donor family to give the gift to a named person. The gift must go through a medical review and match the named person. Most often, the donor or donor family is related to or knows the named person. Click here for more details.
Can I direct a donation?
- It is permissible to specify an individual to receive a donated organ. If the organ is a suitable match for a person who is waiting for a transplant, they can receive the transplant as a gift.
- You cannot specify a donation on the basis of age, gender, race, or ethnicity. This would bypass the fair allocation system that currently exists.
- If you have questions about directed donation, contact Mid-America Transplant, Midwest Transplant Network, Saving Sight, or the Missouri Kidney Program.
Can organs be given to people of a different racial group or gender?
Yes. However organ size, which is affected by gender, is critical to match a donor heart, lung, or liver with a recipient. Genetic makeup can be a factor when matching a kidney or pancreas donor and recipient because of the importance of tissue matching. Optimal tissue matching can happen within the same racial and genetic background. For example, an individual of Asian descent may match better with a kidney donated from another Asian versus a different race. However, cross-racial donations can and do happen with great success when matches are available.
Does the Registry allow me to sign up as a marrow or living donor?
No. The Registry is used for organ, eye, and tissue donation after death. The website provides links to information about blood, marrow, and living donation. Click to learn more.
Is the Registry used for whole body donation?
No. The Registry is not used for whole body donation. Rather it is used for the gift of organs, tissues, and eyes. If your organs do not meet the criteria for transplant, they can be used for research and medical education. Under Gift Specifications, be sure to select “Transplant, Therapy, Research, Education.” This is not the same as whole body donation. If you choose to give your whole body for research and education, you must make plans for this in advance of your death with the institute of your choice. Click to learn more. Note: If you choose to consent to whole body donation, you may not be able to donate your organs or tissues for transplant.
When must organs be recovered?
Organs are recovered as soon as possible after death is legally declared. Tissue can be removed up to 24 hours after death.
What do the terms “transplantation,” “therapy,” “research,” and “education” mean in relation to organ, eye and tissue donation?
According to the Uniform Law Commission, Section 4 of the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA) delineates the four purposes for which an anatomical gift may be made, namely, transplantation, therapy, research, or education. The terms “transplantation,” “therapy,” “research,” and “education” are not specifically defined in the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act. Rather, they are defined by their common usage in the communities to which they apply. In general terms, transplantation refers to the removal and grafting of one individual’s body part to the body of another individual. Therapy involves the processing and use of a donated part to develop and provide improvement or treatment for a disease or condition. Research is a process of testing and observing, the goal of which is to obtain generalizable knowledge. Education is the use of the whole body or parts to teach medical professionals and others about human anatomy and its characteristics.
Can my body be donated for the study of science after donation of organs and tissue?
Each academic institution has its own guidelines about accepting body donations. Not all academic institutions will accept body donations after organ and tissue donation. If you are interested in body donation it is recommended that you check with the academic institutions you wish to support. They can answer specific questions about organ and tissue donation and pre-arrange the donation of your body for the advancement of science.
How can my organs and tissues be used for research?
Organs and tissues which are not fit for transplant may be used for research. Recovery is done by the local organ procurement organization. Research must be approved as medical research. The donor’s Registry record must indicate research or the donor family must give the okay to proceed.
I may need an organ transplant. How do I get my name on the list?
The United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) indicates that your physician must give you a referral to a transplant hospital. There are over 200 U.S. transplant hospitals. You should choose one based on your needs, including insurance, location, finances and support group availability. Schedule an appointment for an evaluation and find out if you are a good candidate for a transplant. During the evaluation, ask questions and learn as much as possible about the transplant hospital and the transplant team. If the transplant hospital team determines you are a good transplant candidate, they will add you to the national waiting list. Your transplant hospital will notify you within 10 days of being added to the list. As you have additional questions, consult your transplant team at your transplant hospital. For more details, visit transplantliving.org/before-the-transplant/about-organ-allocation/getting-on-the-list/.
I am in need of a living donor, is social media safe to use to search for a potential living donor?
Yes, but use caution! According to the United Network of Organ Sharing, social networking sites enable people to communicate with others around the world using forums, interest groups, blogs, chat rooms, e-mail, etc. Yet, the organization stresses the importance of educating and protecting yourself. Learn more. Also, talk to your transplant team about available resources that they can provide to assist you in the search process.