There are more than 120,000 patients on the national organ transplant waiting list, each one reliant on the compassion and generosity of another for a life-saving gift. Of those, more than 5,000 are listed at transplant centers in Florida. While many will be transplanted, there are some who sadly will not. Their gifts will not come in time. Our vision is a transplant for every patient in need so that there are not any deaths on the waiting list.
National research shows that a majority of the population supports the concept of donation, yet the same majority has not yet documented that decision through the state registries. Sometimes it is a myth, misconception or urban legend about donation that holds them back; other times it is the lack of understanding about process for documenting one’s intent to become a donor.
Here are some of the common questions and misunderstandings about organ and tissue donation:
- If I am registered as a donor, will my medical care be affected? Medical care is not affected in any way by your status as a registered donor. After an accident or injury, every attempt will be made to save your life by every health care professional involved in your care. Hospital personnel don’t even have access to the donor registry to determine your wishes.
- Will my family or estate be charged for donation? No. There is no cost to the donor’s family for organ and tissue donation. Once death has been declared and authorization is confirmed through the donor registry or from the family, all costs associated with organ and/or tissue recovery are assumed by the recovery organizations. Hospital expenses incurred during the life-saving effort and funeral expenses remain the responsibility of the donor’s family.
- Does my religion allow donation? All major eastern and western religions either support donation or leave the decision up to the individual. If you would like additional information on the official position of your faith, please contact us for a written statement.
- Does donation affect funeral arrangements? Each donor is treated with great respect and dignity throughout the donation process, and the donor's appearance following donation still allows for an open-casket funeral. Once the organ and/or tissue recovery process is completed, the body is released to the donor’s family for funeral arrangements.
- Are transplant recipients told who their donors are? The identity of all parties is kept strictly confidential; however, donor families and transplant recipients may receive generic information such as age, gender and state of residence. Individually, the recipient may be told the circumstances of the donor’s death, and the donor’s family may receive additional information on the recipients, such as hobbies and interests, if the recipients allow that information to be provided. LifeQuest strongly encourages both recipients and donor families to write to each other, as this type of communication often helps ease the pain of a tragic death. All communication between the parties is confidential, but if there is a mutual interest in direct communication, we will facilitate that.
- Can my family override my decision to donate? Enrollment on the Joshua Abbott Organ and Tissue Donor Registry by anyone 18 years or older grants authorization for donation to take place. Should you be in the position to donate, your next of kin or legal guardian will be presented with documentation of your registration, but they will not be able to overturn your decision. Enrollment on the registry by those under the age of 18 is not binding.
- Does my age, pre-existing medical condition or sexual orientation prevent me from being a donor? Do not rule yourself out of being a donor. The fact you want to be a donor is something to be celebrated, and we encourage you to register your decision. Age, most medical conditions and sexual orientation do not exclude you from being a suitable organ and tissue donor. In the event you are in a position to donate, medical specialists will evaluate your medical history to determine your suitability to donate.
- Is it possible to restrict my donation from prisoners or other groups? Federal law does not allow you to restrict your donation to or from specific classes of individuals. By checking “Donation Limitations” on the registry enrollment form, you can opt out of donating specific organs and tissues or having your organs and tissues donated for research.
- How do you determine who receives the organs? Organs are allocated nationally based on a complex medical formula established by transplant doctors, public representatives, ethicists and organ recovery agencies. UNOS (the United Network for Organ Sharing) maintains the list of patients waiting for transplants. A donor's blood type, tissue type, body weight, and size are matched against patients on the list. If there are multiple matches, priority is given to the sickest patients or, in the case of kidneys, those who have been on the waiting list the longest. Factors such as race, gender, age, income or celebrity status are never considered when determining who receives an organ.
- If I don’t want to sign up online, is there any other way to register? In addition to online registrations, you may join the registry when you apply for or renew your driver license or ID card through the Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (DHSMV). If you are unable to sign up online or at a driver license office, you can contact LifeQuest, and we will mail you a registry enrollment form.