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Michigan Organ Donor Registry
What is organ and tissue donation?
It is the transplanting of viable organs and tissues from a deceased person into recipients to save or enhance their quality of life.
Who can become an organ and tissue donor?
People of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential organ and tissue donors. Your medical condition at the time of death will determine what can be donated.
What is the Michigan Organ Donor Registry?
The Michigan Organ Donor Registry is a confidential database of residents who wish to be organ and tissue donors. The registry is maintained by the Department of State. It contains your name, address and date of birth. Gift of Life Michigan, the state's authorized organ recovery organization, may access the database to assist hospitals if a transplant is pending.
You may add your name to the Online Michigan Organ Donor Registry or at any Secretary of State branch office. Once you enroll, you will receive a heart sticker for your driver's license or state identification card, designating your decision to be an organ and tissue donor. If you have signed up prior to Jan. 1, 2007, you will need to re-enroll to update your registration and receive a heart sticker for your license or ID card.
What does it mean to be registered on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry?
Being registered means you have decided to donate your organs and tissues when you die and have enrolled on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry to designate your decision.
Enrolling on the registry signifies that you have made your own decision, relieving your family of the stress of making a decision for you in its time of loss. If you are registered as a donor, no further consent is needed to proceed with donation.
Your family will be informed of your decision by the donation coordinator. They will be asked to provide a medical and social history. Throughout the donation process, the support staff will answer any questions or concerns they have.
If you want to be a donor but would prefer not to be in the registry, it is extremely important to talk to your family about your decision. With no registry record, your family will be asked to make a decision on your behalf. To ensure your wish is carried out, it is important to clearly share your decision with family members, so they can support it at the time of death.
How do I sign up to become an organ and tissue donor?
Signing up to be an organ donor is easy. You may enroll using the Online Michigan Organ Donor Registry. You may also sign up when you renew or request a replacement license or state ID card through Online Services or when you obtain a replacement or renew your driver's license or ID card at a Secretary of State office. Michigan law supports your right to make your own donation decision - no further consent is required once you enroll on the registry. However, it is still important to talk to your family about your desire to be an organ and tissue donor, so it is aware of your intention and to avoid any delays or confusion.
At the time of death, if you have joined the Michigan Organ Donor registry, your family will be approached and informed of your wishes. If you are not already registered, your family will be asked to consider the option of organ and tissue donation. A donation coordinator from Gift of Life Michigan will explain the donation process and answer questions.
By law, all hospitals must have a program to approach the families of potential organ and tissue donors and offer them the option of donation if the person is not already registered. This law was formulated to respond to the nation's critical lack of organ and tissue donors.
I signed up on the organ donor registry, but I never got a heart sticker.
Visit the Online Michigan Organ Donor Registry or any Secretary of State office for a replacement sticker. The next time you apply of a Michigan's driver's license or state identification card, the heart insignia will be printed directly on your card (no need for a new sticker).
What organs and tissues can I donate?
Significant advances in surgical procedures and in the development of medicines have made possible the transplantation of the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas and intestine. Tissues used for transplantation include corneas, heart valves, thin layers of skin, bone, plus blood and soft tissues such as ligaments, tendons, veins, cartilage and bone marrow.
To volunteer to give blood, contact your local Red Cross Chapter or visit www.redcross.org and enter your ZIP code to show your local chapter. To register to donate your bone marrow or to learn more, visit www.marrow.org.
Am I too old to donate?
There is no age limit for donation. Anyone can be considered a potential organ and tissue donor. The best thing to do is add your name to the Michigan Organ Donor Registry and share your decision with your family.
Will anyone want my organs when I'm gone?
There is a critical need for organs and tissues throughout the U.S. The criteria for donation are constantly changing. Do not exclude yourself from the possibility of donation on the basis of age or medical history. Many of the people on the transplant waiting list will die before the organ or tissue they need is available, so it is crucial that every potential donor be considered.
Can I donate anything if I have cancer?
You may be able to donate organs and tissue, depending on the type of cancer and whether it is in remission. If the cancer is not blood-borne or has not progressed to the eye, cornea donation is an option.
What if family members are opposed to donation?
Once you have signed up on the registry, family members cannot override your wish. At the time of your death, they will be informed of your wish to donate and led through the process so that they understand what is to happen. Your decision to be a donor will help ease their pain, relieving them of making the decision during a difficult time and by knowing that your gift will enhance or save other lives.
How are organs and tissues allocated?
When a patient needs a transplant, his or her name is added to the National Transplant Waiting List. The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is the federally authorized organization that oversees the list and works with organ donation professionals as organs become available for transplant. Strict federal guidelines ensure the ethical and equitable distribution of donated organs. Donation coordinators obtain information about blood type and genetic makeup for each transplantable organ. This information is matched against a list of suitable recipients, with factors such as medical urgency, tissue and blood type, body size and length of time on the transplant waiting list used to help prioritize need. Organs are first offered to patients in the immediate service area. If no suitable match is found, the organs are offered regionally and then nationally. There is no discrimination due to age, sex, race, occupation or social or financial status when determining who receives an organ.
Can organs be given to different racial groups or genders?
Race and gender are not factors, but organ size is critical in matching a donor heart, lung or liver with a recipient. Genetic makeup is a crucial factor when matching a kidney or pancreas donor and recipient. Cross-racial donations can, and do, happen with great success when suitable matches are available.
Can organs be bought or sold?
According to the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act of 1984, human organs cannot be bought or sold in the U.S. Violators are subject to fines and imprisonment. This strict regulation, plus the incredible surgical complexity of conducting an organ transplant, prevents any type of U.S. "black market" for organs.
Does the donor family incur the cost of donation?
There is no cost to the donor's family for organ and tissue donation. The organ procurement organization pays all costs related to recovery of the organs and tissue. Only the costs of any hospitalization and treatment prior to donation and funeral expenses remain the responsibility of the donor family.
Will donation affect an open casket funeral?
The body of the donor is treated with respect and dignity. As in any other surgery, the recovery of organs and tissues is conducted under sterile conditions in an operating room staffed by qualified surgeons. Cornea recovery can take place at the hospital or funeral home by professionally trained surgical technicians. Donation does not disfigure the body and will not change its appearance in a casket. Only those directly involved will ever know about the donation.
Do donor families and recipients ever meet?
Donor and recipient identity and other detailed personal information are classified unless both parties agree to waive confidentiality. In general, only basic information such as the age, gender and occupation of the recipient or donor as well as the general geographic area may be shared. The recipient may also be told the circumstances of donor's death, while the donor's family may receive feedback on how a recipient's transplant is progressing.
Are there religious objections to donation?
All major religions throughout the world support organ and tissue donation as a humanitarian act of giving. Transplantation is consistent with the life-preserving traditions of these faiths.
What is a living donation?
That's when a patient receives an organ from a living donor. Living donations offer an alternative for patients waiting for a transplant and help increase the existing organ supply. Depending on what organ is needed, living donations may consist of the entire organ, such as a kidney, or a segment of an organ, such as a lobe of the liver or lung. Organs suitable for a living donation are the kidney, liver, lung, pancreas, intestine, and in rare cases, the heart. Living heart transplants are conducted when a patient receives a "heart-lung bloc" because it is determined that the donor lungs will function best if they are not separated from the donor heart. The patient's own heart may then be given to someone waiting for a heart transplant.
If you know someone who needs a transplant and are considering making a living donation, please contact that person's transplant center. If you do not have a specific patient in mind, you can contact Transplant Living for additional information about anonymous living donations.
What happens if I change my mind after I register?
The option to cancel your registration is always available. You may cancel your registration by going to online services or at any Secretary of State office by presenting your driver's license or ID card.
You can also cancel your registration by sending a request in writing to the following address.
Please include your full name, date of birth, Driver's License or State ID number in your request.
Michigan Department of State
Customer Services Administration
Program Support Section
Secondary Complex, Third Floor
7064 Crowner Drive
Lansing, MI 48918
Where can I get more information about organ, tissue and eye donation?
For more information, please contact the following organizations:
Organ and tissue donation: Gift of Life Michigan at 1-866-500-5801; www.giftoflifemichigan.org
Cornea and eye transplantation: Eversight Michigan at 1-800-247-7250; http://www.eversightvision.org/michigan/
Also, the Department of State website has additional information here: Organ Donation
What are the Gift of Life Michigan and Eversight?
Gift of Life Michigan is a nonprofit, full-service organ recovery organization that acts as the intermediary between donors, physicians and hospital staff. It provides all services necessary for organ and tissue donation and transplantation. This includes education, retrieval, preservation and organ placement as well as tissue-typing services. Contact the Gift of Life Michigan at 1-866-500-5801 or www.giftoflifemichigan.org.
Eversight is a 501(c)(3) independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration of sight. Eversight recovers, evaluates and distributes human eye tissue for transplantation. Its mission includes supporting research into the causes and cures of blinding eye conditions, educating the public about eye, organ and tissue donation, and providing humanitarian aid to those unable to afford transplant procedures around the world. For more information contact Eversight at 1-800-247-7250 or http://www.eversightvision.org.