Maggie - Tissue and Blood Recipient

Become an Organ, Tissue and Eye Donor

Learn more about how organ donation works, the process of organ donation, and how you can become a donor and save lives.

Organ, Tissue and Eye Donation

 

Your Community Needs Help

Nationally, more than 100,000 people are waiting for a lifesaving organ or life-enhancing tissue transplant. Of these individuals, approximately 1,800 are located in Wisconsin. One donor has the power to save and heal up to 75 lives; every day, Versiti Organ and Tissue works with donor families, local hospitals and national registries to facilitate these selfless gifts and save lives.

 

Maggie was born with four different congenital heart defects. The generosity of organ and tissue, and blood and platelet donors saved her life.

The Donation Process

After a severe medical event occurs, hospital staff notifies Versiti. Federal regulations mandate that the hospital notify an organ procurement organization (OPO) of all deaths and impending deaths.

The patient is evaluated to determine whether they are a suitable organ and tissue donor. Criteria include age, cause of death and medical history.

If a patient is determined to be a suitable organ and tissue donor candidate, Versiti discusses donation with the donor’s family. Authorization for donation may happen via first-person or next-of-kin authorization.

First-person authorization includes any individual who has registered as an organ, tissue and eye donor on the Wisconsin state registry or the national donor registry, and any individual who has authorized donation by means of an advanced directive, power of attorney or living will.

First-person authorization is a legal authorization for anatomical gift donation and does not require additional consent. If donation has not been first-person authorized, legal next-of-kin may authorize donation on behalf of the individual in the event of his/her death (Wis. Stat. 157.06).

Donor families must also answer a medical/social questionnaire to protect recipients and screen for communicable diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis.

If the donor’s organs and tissues are suitable, they are recovered during a surgical procedure. If certain organs and tissues cannot be used for transplantation, some may be donated for research.

Types of Donation

One organ donor can save up to eight lives. Organ donation involves the recovery of:
  • Heart
  • Intestines
  • Kidneys
  • Liver
  • Lungs
  • Pancreas

One tissue donor can restore the health and enhance the lives of more than 75 people. Donated human tissue can be used in intricate surgeries and can benefit patients in a variety of life-threatening situations, including healing severe burns, repairing torn ligaments and tendons, restoring mobility, and repairing musculoskeletal structures like teeth, skin and spine.

Tissue donation involves the recovery of:

  • Corneas and/or whole eyes
  • Bone
  • Skin
  • Tendons and ligaments
  • Heart valves
  • Vascular tissues

Resources:

Are you an expectant mother with a planned C-section? Learn more about placenta donation.

 
Volunteering with Versiti
Versiti volunteers provide an invaluable service to our lifesaving mission. Learn more about Versiti’s volunteer services and how you can serve your community.
 
Financial Giving
Versiti Blood Research Institute Foundation accepts financial and philanthropic gifts from donors, which helps to propel lifesaving research.
 
Community Resources
Versiti Organ and Tissue offers several resources, outreach programs and educational opportunities that encourage communities support organ, tissue and eye donation.
 
Hospital and Medical Partners
Versiti is an accredited organ procurement organization (OPO) that partners with Wisconsin regional hospitals, medical examiners and funeral homes.
 
Organ & Tissue Donor Family Resources
Versiti Organ and Tissue provides a number of resources and support materials for organ/tissue donor families, including donation outcomes and support.
 
Placenta Donation Program

Are you an expectant mother in Wisconsin with a planned C-section? Learn more about placenta donation.

People of all ages, races, ethnicities may register as organ, tissue and eye donors. A donor’s medical condition at the time of their death ultimately determines whether or not they will be able to donate.
 

After the decision is made to donate a loved one’s organs and tissues, Versiti’s clinical staff consults with the United National Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and transplant hospitals to find matches on the national waiting list. When matches are found, organs are allocated based on need and proximity.
 

Nationally, more than 110,000 people are waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant or a life-enhancing tissue transplant. One person is added to the waitlist every nine minutes, and 17 people die every day while waiting for an organ transplant.
Transplants are often the most successful when donors and recipients come from the same or similar racial and ethnic backgrounds, necessitating a need for a diverse donor registry.
 

Yes. Organ, tissue and eye donation only becomes an option after every effort has been made to save your life.
 

Sexual orientation, gender and gender identity do not prevent people from registering as organ donors. However, certain FDA regulations may impact eligibility for tissue and eye donation.
 

No. Organ, tissue and eye donors and recipients are matched based on a variety of factors, including blood type, how sick recipients are, time on the waitlist and more. Race, income, gender, celebrity and social status do not determine whether or not someone receives an organ.
 

No. All costs associated with organ donation lie with transplant recipients and their insurance providers. Donor families only pay for medical care provided to the individual before their death, as well as funeral costs. It is illegal to buy and sell organs in the United States.
 

Yes, organ and tissue donors are still able to have open-casket funerals. Great care is taken to ensure your loved one’s appearance is preserved.
 

  • Heart/lungs: 4-6 hours
  • Pancreas: 12-24 hours
  • Liver: 6-8 hours
  • Kidneys: 24-72 hours
  • Corneas: must be transplanted within 5-7 days
  • Tissues: may be preserved for 3-5 years

Nearly all religious groups support organ, tissue and eye donation and transplantation, as long as it does not impede the life or hasten the death of the donor. In fact, many religious groups encourage organ and tissue donation and see it as a charitable act that saves and enhances lives.

Versiti encourages all faith leaders to learn about their group’s official position on organ and tissue donation, transplantation and other ethical issues.
 
Host A Blood Drive
Blood drive organizations save lives. Learn how to host a blood drive in your community with Versiti.
 
About Blood Donation
Donate blood, donate plasma or donate platelets at a blood donation center near you or a blood drive near you. Make an appointment to donate blood today.
 
Importance of Diverse Donors
Diverse blood donations improve blood transfusion outcomes for sickle cell patients and diverse blood recipients. Make an appointment to donate blood.
 
About Blood Donation
Donate blood, donate plasma or donate platelets at a blood donation center near you or a blood drive near you. Make an appointment to donate blood today.
 
Importance of Diverse Donors
Diverse blood donations improve blood transfusion outcomes for sickle cell patients and diverse blood recipients. Make an appointment to donate blood.
 
Share Your Story
Versiti invites you to share your story and photo to help encourage more people to give back. You may even be featured throughout the year on our social media.
 
Ways to Give
You can support Versiti’s mission in several ways, including donating blood, hosting a blood drive, joining the organ and tissue donor registry, and more.