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Organ Donation: The Facts continued...

Some medical centers can transplant an organ even if the donor's and recipient's blood and tissue types don't match. In that case, the recipient will receive special treatments to prevent his or her body from rejecting the new organ.

How can I become an organ donor?

To donate your organs after death, you can either register with your state's donor registry (visit OrganDonor.gov), or fill out an organ donor card when you get or renew your driver's license.

To become a living donor, you can either work directly with your family member or friend's transplant team, or contact a transplant center in your area to find out who's in need of an organ.

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.

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