Frequently Asked Questions
To read answers to the FAQs, please click on the question itself and the answer will appear below it.
Q: Why should I donate?
About 3,000 people are waiting for a life-saving organ in Michigan today. Nationwide, the number stands at about 114,000. People die waiting every single day because the number in need greatly outpaces the organs available. There is an especially critical need for hearts, livers and kidneys.
Your decision to someday donate your organs could save up to eight lives. Your tissue can ease the pain and improve the lives of up to 50 more sick or injured people.
Q: Who can become a donor?
Anyone is a potential donor despite age or medical conditions, so please don’t rule yourself out. There’s no age limit for organ donation (Michigan has successfully transplanted the organs of donors in their 90s). Some medical conditions could make your heart or kidneys non transplantable, for example, but your pancreas or liver could help someone on the waiting list. Donors with some medical conditions, such as hepatitis or HIV, are able to save or prolong the lives of waiting patients with the exact same diagnosis. Medical criteria for organ donation changes as medical advances occur; and a physician evaluates all potential donors at the time of death to determine what can be used to help others.
Because of the critical need for organs, more people are deciding to become living donors. Most living donors offer a kidney to save a life but part of a lung or a section of liver also can be donated.
Q: Why is it important to register as a donor?
Your gift will be used to help others through transplantation, therapy, research and education. If you register to become a donor, you relieve your grieving family of having to make a decision when you die. Having your wishes documented also ensures that your decision to donate will be carried out, if medically possible.
Q: How do I sign up?
You can do so right here, by visiting any Secretary of State branch office or by calling Gift of Life at 800.482.4881. It takes about 30 seconds.
Q: Can I indicate specific organs or tissue to be donated?
Joining the Michigan Organ Donor Registry gives consent for all organs and tissues that can be used to help another person. However, people wishing to limit their gift may create a separate document to indicate specific organs and tissues they want to donate. They should keep this in their own possession and let their families know where it is kept.
Q: Will doctors work as hard to save my life if they know I’m a donor?
Yes, absolutely. This is, perhaps, the number one myth about organ donation. Every effort to save your life will be made before donation is considered or even discussed. By law, the medical team treating you must be completely separate from the transplant team.
Q: How much does it cost to donate?
Nothing. It won’t cost your estate or your family anything if your organs and tissue are transplanted. All procedures related to the donation are covered by Gift of Life Michigan.
Q: Will I still be able to have an open casket at the funeral?
Yes, neither organ nor tissue donation interferes with open casket memorials.
Q: Will my religion approve of donation?
Most major religions approve of organ, tissue and eye donation and consider it one of the highest acts of compassion and generosity. > View a list of specific religious organizations and their positions on donation.
Q: Can minors register to donate?
Yes, but until they turn 18, their parents have the ultimate say in whether they become an organ donor.