FAQs

Find answers to some of the most common questions about organ and tissue donation:

How do I become a donor?

To become a donor you can quickly and easily sign up online or check "yes" for organ and tissue donation when you get or renew your driver’s license, learner’s permit or photo ID. The words “Organ Donor” will be placed below your photo and in your computer record with the Pa. Department of Transportation. Make sure to share your decision with your loved ones. There is no fee to sign up to be a donor.

Why is it important to donate?

Each day, 20 people in the United States die while waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. And every 10 minutes, another person's name is added to the national waiting list.

Who can be a donor?

Anyone can decide to be a donor, regardless of age or health. If you are under age 18, you will need a parent or guardian’s signature.

How many people can one donor help?

One organ and tissue donor can save up to 8 lives and enhance the lives of more than 75 others. Learn more about what one donor can do.

How many people are currently waiting for a transplant?

More than 118,000 people in the United States are waiting for a transplant that will save their lives, and hundreds of thousands more wait for life-enhancing tissue transplants. In Pennsylvania alone, there are more than 8,000 people on the waiting list. View more facts about donation.

Why should minorities be particularly concerned about donation?

More than half of people on the national waiting list are minorities. Some diseases of the kidney, heart, lung, liver and pancreas are more common in minority communities, increasing the need for transplants. Learn more about minorities and donation.

What organs and tissues can be donated?

Life-saving organs for transplant include the heart, kidneys, lungs, liver, pancreas and intestines. You can also donate tissues such as bone, ligaments and tendons, which are used to repair injured or diseased joints and bones. Corneas, heart valves, veins and skin may also be donated. Learn more about what you can donate.

Will paramedics, doctors and nurses make every effort to save my life if they know I am a donor?

YES. Donation cannot happen until after a person has died. Doctors and nurses will do everything possible to save your life. In fact, the medical team treating you is completely separate from the transplant team. View myths and misconceptions about donation.

Will donation affect my funeral plans?

Donation does not disfigure the body and will not interfere with customary funeral plans, including open-casket viewings or cremation.

Will there be any cost to my family for donation?

There are no costs to a person’s family for organ and tissue donation. Most transplants are covered by the recipients’ individual health insurance, Medicare or Medicaid programs.

Does my religion support donation?

All major religions in the United States support organ and tissue donation, both as a way of helping others and as an individual’s right to choose. Learn more about religion and donation.

Can living people donate organs?

YES. People can become living donors by being matched with someone in need of a transplant through a series of physical and psychological tests. Most living donors are those who have a relative in need of a transplant, but anyone can apply for eligibility.
Learn more about living donation.