There are few ways to make a bigger impact than through organ donation. According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, a single donor can save up to eight lives and enhance up to 75 more.
There’s a huge need for organ donors. As of March 2022, more than 106,000 American men, women and children are on the national transplant waiting list. Every nine minutes, another person is added to the list.
In many cases, the wait can be incredibly long. That’s because the need for viable organs to transplant far outpaces the number of willing and qualified donors. In Texas alone, more than 10,000 people are waiting for a transplant.
The organ donation process
Most transplants performed in the United States use organs from deceased donors. A person can either sign up for organ donation preceding death, or family members can agree to donate a loved one’s organs after death. You can also become a living donor.
When death is imminent, a medical team will place a potential donor on life support to keep the organs functioning. During this time, clinicians will determine whether the patient is brain dead, meaning he or she no longer has any brain activity and can’t breathe without intervention.
Once brain death is declared, organ donation is possible. Organs that can be donated include the kidneys, liver, lungs, heart, pancreas, intestines, hands and face. In some cases, the corneas and bodily tissues are also donated.
An organ matching process helps determine whether the person’s organs are in good condition and who will benefit from them. This is based on factors such as blood type, as well as time spent on the transplant waiting list and geographic location.
How to become an organ donor
If you’d like to register to become an organ donor, the process of signing up is relatively easy. You can submit your basic info to the Donate Life Texas registry, which signs you up to donate your organs, eyes and tissues following death.
As of 2021, more than 13 million Texans have signed up for organ donation through Donate Life Texas—and more than 3,600 of those registered have gone on to save lives through organ donation following death.
You can also register for organ donation when applying for a new driver’s license or renewing one. Donate Life Texas, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles partner together to make this possible. If you’d like, you can also make a monetary contribution to Donate Life Texas at the same time.
Have other questions about organ donation or how to sign up? Check out these answers to commonly asked questions.