As parents, you may have specific questions about the organ donation process which you prefer to address outside of a family discussion. This page contains information which may answer some of these questions.
Why is My Child Learning About Organ Donation?
90% of Americans say they support donation, but only 30% know the essential steps to take to be a donor.The need for organ and tissue donation and transplantation in America affects people of all ages and backgrounds. Many schools incorporate donor awareness into their school curricula as a current topic of interest. In addition, Texas law requires driver’s education classes to address the topic of organ donation. This way, drivers have been given an opportunity to consider organ donation before the question is posed to them at the DPS or DMV.
The key to solving the nation's organ and tissue shortage is to encourage awareness and discussion regarding the issue of donation. By providing youth with accurate facts early, they will be prepared to make an informed decision and have an opportunity to discuss their thoughts with family members.
Through interaction with their children, parents will:
- Become informed about the decision-making process related to organ and tissue donation
- Learn how to ensure that family members' wishes are both known and followed
- Recognize the importance of having a family discussion related to donation and transplantation
- UNOS, United Network of Organ Sharing, ensures that organ allocation policies are followed by all transplant centers and organ procurement organizations in the United States. For more information on this organization visit the UNOS Website.
- The OPTN, Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, operates and monitors the system for allocating organs for transplantation. It is among the most comprehensive health-care oversight programs in the country. Every organ allocation is subject to monitoring. For more information on this organization visit the OPTN Website.
- Compliance with organ allocation policies exceeds 95 percent. In the rare number of incidents where potential issues of non-compliance are identified, an even smaller percentage merit action by the committee following a thorough review of the circumstances.
- Organ donation is dependent upon the public's trust that the nation's transplant system is operated fairly. Organ transplant policy is based on the latest medical and scientific findings and is continually refined to be as equitable as possible given the severe shortage. Because patient safety is the primary goal, compliance with transplant policy is carefully monitored and stringently controlled.
An Unbiased Match - The Transplantation Matching System
- Each patient in the database is matched by the computer against the donor characteristics. The computer then generates a ranked list of candidates for each available organ in order according to organ allocation policies. The database is constantly updating to ensure the results are accurate and up to date.
- Factors affecting ranking may include: tissue match, blood type, length of time on the waiting list, immune status, and the distance between the potential recipient and the donor. For heart, liver, lungs, and intestines, the potential recipient's degree of medical urgency is also considered.
- When a patient is selected, he or she must be available, healthy enough to undergo major surgery, and willing to be transplanted immediately. Also, a laboratory test to measure compatibility between the donor and recipient may be necessary.
- For more information about the organ matching system review the UNOS Transplant System Fact Sheet.
Introduction to FAQs, Statistics and Common Misconceptions
How does donation affect the donor’s funeral?
- It doesn’t, an open-casket funeral is possible for all organ and tissue donors. The donor body is treated with the utmost respect and the methods of retrieval allow even skin donors to have an open casket funeral.
Will my religion approve of organ donation?
Is there an age requirement to register to be an organ donor?
- There is no age requirement to register to be an organ donor. However, until your child is a legal adult, your consent is required. Young people are still encouraged to register because families tend to agree to donation if their loved one took the time to commit their name to the registry. It is important to share how you feel about organ donation with your family. For tips on how to start a conversation about organ donation visit our Discussing Donation Page.
"If I donate, I would worry that the recipient and/or the recipient's family would discover my identity and cause more grief for my family." - MYTH
- THE TRUTH - Information about the donor is released by the team that coordinates the donation to the recipients only if the family that donated requests it be provided. Refer to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) within this website for an explanation of how this is handled.
To learn more about organ donation and transplantation visit our FAQs/Myths Page.