Our bodies are our most precious and most personal possessions. So it may be difficult to think about what will happen to your body when you no longer need it. Organ or tissue donation can be your last opportunity to give a gift of life to someone else at the end of yours.
The decision to be an organ donor is a very personal choice. For this reason, if you do not make your wishes known, deciding whether or not to donate your organs can be a source of great pain for your loved ones after you are gone. Here are some things to think about as you consider being an organ donor.
Who Can Give
Any person of any age has the potential to be an organ donor. If you are younger than 18 years old, your parents will need to okay your decision to donate. People who need organs range in age from young children to senior citizens. So organs are needed in all sizes. The organs of an older person may be healthier than those of a younger person, so age is not a deciding factor. Don’t think that just because you have a medical condition you will not be allowed to donate. Some conditions like active cancer may prevent a donation. But that is something the doctors will decide when the time comes. By deciding to be an organ donor, you give them the chance to try to use your organs to improve the life of someone else.
What You Can Give
Organ donation is a generic term that covers the donation of organs and other tissues. Organs that can be donated include:
Organs are very fragile and cannot be stored. They must be removed from your body soon after you die and must be transplanted within just a few hours.
Other tissues that can be donated include:
• Corneas (part of the eye)
• The middle ear
• Heart valves
Many of these tissues can be stored in tissue banks. They can help restore sight and hearing, repair hearts and veins, and help burn victims by replacing lost skin.