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Organ Donation and Transplant

Organ Donation: The Facts continued...

If I donate an organ, will I have health problems in the future?

Not necessarily. There are some organs you can give up all or part of without having long-term health issues. You can donate a whole kidney, or part of the pancreas, intestine, liver, or lung. Your body will compensate for the missing organ or organ part. If it is determined that donating an organ would put your health at risk in the short term or long term, then you would not be able to donate.

Will I be paid for donating an organ?

Not. It's illegal to pay someone for an organ. The transplant program, recipient's insurance, or recipient should cover your expenses from tests and hospital costs related to a living organ donation. The transplant program can go over what coverage is available for additional medical services. Some or all of your travel costs may also be covered.

Will organ donation after death mean I can't have an open-casket funeral?

No. The surgical incisions used for organ donation will all be closed.

Will my organ donation after death incur any costs to my family?

No. The costs of the tests and surgery related to the donation will be covered by the recipient -- most often by the recipient's insurance. Your medical care and funeral costs are paid for by your family.  

Does signing a donor card have an impact on the quality of medical care I get at a hospital?

No. When you are in a life-threatening situation, the medical team that is treating you is separate from the transplant team. A maximum effort to save your life will be made before an organ donation is considered.

Pros and Cons of Organ Donation

When you're considering becoming a living organ donor, think very carefully about these pros and cons:

Pros. Probably the greatest benefit of organ donation is knowing that you're saving a life. That life might be your spouse, child, parent, brother or sister, a close friend, or a very grateful stranger.

Cons. Organ donation is major surgery. All surgery comes with risks such as bleeding, infection, blood clots, allergic reactions, or damage to nearby organs and tissues.

Although you will have anesthesia during the surgery as a living donor, you can have pain while you recover. Pain and discomfort will vary depending on the type of surgery. And you may have visible, lasting scars from surgery.

It will take some time for your body to recover from surgery. You might have to miss work until you're fully healed.

Although the recipient's insurance will cover the costs of the surgery, any medical problems that develop from the transplant in the future won't be covered. Even your own health insurance policy might not cover these complications.

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