Learn more about organ and tissue donation

Get answers about why it’s important, how it works, and how to register.

Table of Contents

Organ donation statistics

  • More than 100,000 people are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants in the US. About 5,000 of them live in New England.
  • Over 7,000 people die each year in the U.S. because organs are not donated in time. That’s about 20 people each day.
  • 85% of patients on the national transplant waiting list are waiting for a kidney.

Questions about organ and tissue donation

  • Who can be a donor?
    People of all ages and medical histories can register to be an organ and tissue donor. A person’s medical condition at the time of death will determine what organs and tissues can be donated.
  • What can be donated?
    One donor can save up to eight lives with organ donation, restore sight to two people through cornea donation, and heal more than 75 lives through tissue donation. For the full list of what can be donated, visit DonateLife.net.
  • How are recipients selected to receive an organ?
    A national system matches available organs from the donor with people on the waiting list based on blood type, body size, how sick they are, donor distance, tissue type, and time on the list. Sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, race, income, celebrity, and social status are never considered.
  • Does registering as a donor change patient care?
    Your life always comes first. Doctors work hard to save every patient’s life, but sometimes there is a complete and irreversible loss of brain function. When this happens, a patient is declared clinically and legally dead. Only then is donation an option.
  • Why is it important for people of different races and ethnicities to register to donate?
    Transplants can take place successfully between people from different racial or ethnic groups, however transplant success may be better when organs are matched between people of the same racial or ethnic background.

Questions about donor registration

  • How do you register to be an organ and tissue donor?
    You can register as an organ donor at any time through the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV). Many people register when they apply for or renew their Massachusetts driver's license or ID. You can also register online at RegisterMe.org/MA. It’s fast, easy, and secure. Your registration is valid until you decide to make a change.
  • How do you change or confirm your donor registration?
    If you registered online at DonateLife.net, RegisterMe.org, or in your iPhone Health App, please go to RegisterMe.org and click “Access Your Registration” to make changes to your record. If you registered through the RMV, learn more here.
  • Do I need a donor card?
    No. When someone is a candidate for donation, the national and state registries are searched to determine if you have registered to be a donor.

For more frequently asked questions and answers, visit DonateLife.net.

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