Organs include heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver and intestines. Tissue that can be donated include eye, skin, bone,
heart valves and tendons. When organs are donated a national system is in place to distribute organs fairly. Today there is a critical shortage of organs and tissues needed for transplants. Nearly 50,000 Americans are waiting for organ transplants while hundreds of thousands more need tissue transplants. Tragically, many die each year because the organs or tissue they need are not available. You can help save lives by becoming an organ and tissue donor.
Your organs and tissue will not be donated unless a family member gives consent at the time of your death — even if you’ve signed your driver’s license or a donor card. It’s important that you make your family a part of your decision. Tell them about organ and tissue donation and why you feel good about deciding to become a donor. Explain to your family the difference that one person can make. Sharing your decision with your family ahead of time will make it easier for them to carry out your wishes later.
Although, many people with illnesses feel that they have nothing to offer, there is a lot they can do. For example, in many research labs across the country, they use healthy lungs and CF lungs for conducing their research. They also use various other organs and tissues. If you would like to donate organs or tissue to research, you have to make sure your family is aware of your decision. If you have any questions, you could discuss this with a research center. The University of Iowa’s center would be happy to help you. Also see the UNOS web site for more information (http://www.unos.org).