Will my decision to donate affect the quality of my medical care?
No. Organ, eye and tissue recovery takes place only after all efforts to save your life have been exhausted and death legally declared. The doctors working to save your life are entirely separate from the medical team involved in recovering organs and tissues after death.
What is an advance directive for health care choices?
An advance health care directive is a legal document that outlines your decisions concerning medical care at or near the time of your death. An advance health care directive can also be legal authority to grant consent for donation, provided you have outlined your decision to donate. Typically, an advance health care directive prohibits the use of intensive care interventions. However, if you plan to be a vital organ and tissue donor, the document must specify that intensive care interventions are only authorized for the purpose of organ and tissue donation.
Do I have to have an advance directive for health care choices to be a donor?
No. An advance health care directive, for the purpose of donation, is not required to be a donor.
I have an advance directive that includes organ donation. Do I need to register in Missouri's Organ and Tissue Donor Registry?
While it is not vital, it is suggested. The Registry is viewed in all likely donation cases. Due to the fast and emotional nature of events at time of death, families do not always have time to check legal papers. By being in the Registry, recovery staff are able to share proof that you want to be a donor with family members.
I have a person serving as my health care proxy with a signed power of attorney. Can this person approve donation for me?
Yes. However, if you sign up in Missouri’s Registry, your record is first-person consent and will be shared with your proxy. It is best to talk about all end-of-life choices with your proxy. If you are not in the Registry, the holder of your health care power of attorney may make donation decisions on your behalf.
If I am a registered donor and I also have an Out-of-Hospital Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) Order, how will emergency medical staff handle the situation?
Emergency medical staff will honor the Out-of-Hospital DNR Order if on hand or found. You will need to choose what is the most vital to you. If both are important, know that the Out-of-Hospital DNR will be honored. You can still be a tissue donor. Family members can plan tissue donation with the coroner’s office or funeral home, so tell your family what you want so they can handle the state of affairs.
What is brain death?
Brain death results from a severe permanent injury to the brain. Like an injury from a gunshot wound to the head or a car crash. The brain no longer works and a person cannot breathe or sustain their life, but vital body functions may thrive in an intensive care unit for a short period of time. The person is kept on a breathing machine to keep the oxygen and blood moving to the vital organs. The person is moved to surgery to recover the organs. People who experience brain death can also donate tissue.
What is cardiac death?
Cardiac death means the heart is no longer beating and circulation has stopped. Donation after cardiac death, or DCD, is only considered after a loved one has no hope of recovery and the family has decided to remove the ventilator. After the family decides to remove the ventilator, and the loved one is deemed to be a donor candidate, the family’s loved one is allowed to pass away peacefully with the assistance of all appropriate end-of-life comfort measures. If the family’s loved one passes away within a specified time frame, and death is pronounced by the attending physician (not a part of the transplant team), the patient is taken into surgery to recover organs and tissues.
What are tissue transplants?
Donated tissues may include bone, tendons, ligaments, heart valves, skin, veins, cartilage, corneas, etc. These tissues treat a wide range of problems. They can restore sight, movement, and heart action. They can speed healing and repair damaged skin, bone and muscle. They can also help prevent removal of limbs damaged by cancer, infection, or injury.
What is the cornea?
The cornea is the clear tissue covering the front of your eye. It is the part that helps you see.
What is corneal blindness?
It is a condition where the clear tissue is clouded making a person unable to see. This can be caused by a disease, injury, or infection.
What is a corneal transplant?
Surgery that takes the bad tissue covering the eye and replaces it with healthy tissue.
When are organs recovered?
Organ recovery takes place within 18 to 24 hours of death. Organs need to be removed from the body by the doctor. Once a person is declared brain dead, the person is kept on a breathing machine to keep the oxygen and blood moving to the vital organs. The person is moved to surgery to recover the organs. Organs are then stored on ice and taken to the hospital where the person is waiting to receive the gift.
What is a living related kidney donor?
A person who is kin to the recipient, like a parent, brother, sister, or child.
What is a living unrelated kidney donor?
A person who is not kin to you, like a friend, spouse, or co-worker.
What is an altruistic kidney donor?
This donor is sometimes called a Good Samaritan donor. This is a person who donates their kidney to someone they do not know.
Does a chronic health problem keep me from being a donor?
No. A person’s health does not rule out donation. Even a person with cancer, hepatitis C, or diabetes can donate certain gifts. The type of cancer diagnosis and location of the cancer plays a role. A full medical review is made at the time of death by a medical team. Never count yourself out as a likely donor.
What medical conditions prohibit donation?
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, only few conditions would absolutely prevent a person from becoming a donor – such as active cancer or a systemic infection.
Can I be an organ, eye and tissue donor if I use medical marijuana?
Yes. The use of medical marijuana will not affect an individual’s ability to be a potential donor. As with any potential donor, a full medical and social history is taken and a medical evaluation is conducted to determine organ viability on a case-by-case basis at or near the time of death. This assessment and the condition of your body at the time of death will determine if you can be a donor.
Can I receive an organ transplant if I use medical marijuana?
An individual’s transplant surgeon will determine whether or not medical marijuana use will affect transplant eligibility. Criteria varies from one transplant center to another.
If I would like to donate a kidney to someone I know who is in need, how can I be tested to see if I am a match?
Within the United States, living donations of a kidney can be made to a family member, friend, or anyone on the waiting list. Living donations are arranged through one of several transplant centers throughout the U.S. Before anyone can be considered as a donor, the individual must undergo a complete physical, as well as a psychosocial evaluation by the transplant center where they intend to make the donation. United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) is a good source of living donor information, and the National Kidney Foundation.