General Information about Donation

How do I become an organ and tissue donor?

The most important step in becoming a donor is to discuss your wishes with your immediate family members. They will be asked at the time of your death to give permission for your donation. After discussing your wishes with your family, you can fill out the donor card. Keep it with you at all times and put the pink Lifedot™ on your license.

Can I sell my organs?

NO. Federal law prohibits the selling of organs or tissues. All anatomical donations are in fact an extraordinary gift.. the gift of life!

Will my family be charged for the donation?

No. Once your family gives consent for donation, all costs related to the donation and recovery of organs will be paid by Lifesharing Community Organ and Tissue Donation.

Will organ/tissue donation interfere with funeral arrangements or change the donor's appearance?

Removal of organs will not interfere with customary funeral arrangements. The operation is performed as soon as possible under standard sterile conditions in a hospital operating room by a surgeon and operating team. There is no alteration in the donor’s appearance following organ or tissue donation.

Will the identity of the recipients be revealed to the donor family?

The identity of both the donor and the recipient is confidential. Lifesharing will provide the donor’s family with basic information about the recipients, such as age, sex, profession and general location. Some donor families and recipients choose to communicate through anonymous letter writing.

What happens if the organ is rejected?

Specialized medications are administered and can often correct the rejection. If the rejection cannot be corrected, lifesaving measures must be taken. Attempts may be made to locate another organ for re-transplantation. Due to the shortage of donated organs, many recipients die before another organ becomes available. Fortunately, kidney/pancreas transplant patients can return to dialysis or insulin therapy while awaiting a re-transplant.

Will the body try to reject the new organ?

Yes. The recipient’s body will identify the transplanted organ as a foreign object and will attempt to destroy it. Medication is required to control this reaction.

What is the maximum time span between procurement and transplantation?

The maximum time for the following organs/tissues is: kidney (72 hours) liver (24 hours) heart (4-6 hours) heart valves (10 years) lung(4-6 hours) heart/lung (4-6 hours) pancreas (24 hours) intestine (24 hours) skin (2 years) bone (5 years) corneas (7 days)

What happens when the donated organs are removed?

The recipient transplant team will come to the hospital where the donor is located. Once the organs have been removed, they are cooled and preserved. The team will then return to the hospital where transplantation of that organ will take place.

When must the organs/tissues be removed?

Organs must be removed as soon as possible after the determination of brain death, usually within 8 to 16 hours. Donated tissues must be removed within 12 hours of death.

How long must a patient wait for a transplant?

The time a patient spends on the waiting list for an organ can vary from a few days to several years. The length of their wait is affected by several factors, such as the urgency of their medical condition and the availability of donated organs. Tissue banks have a very limited supply of donated skin, bone, heart valves, tendons and corneas. All patients awaiting an organ or tissue transplant depend upon the generosity of donors and their families to give the “gift of life”.

Can organs/tissues be transplanted between sexes and races?

In most cases, yes. Organ size is critical to match donor and recipient hearts, livers and lungs. Genetic makeup between kidney donors and recipients is more critical

How are organs distributed to patients waiting for a transplant?

Each patient waiting for a transplant is listed with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). This agency is responsible for ensuring that donated organs are distributed equitably and fairly. When a donor is identified, the donor’s blood type, tissue type, body weight and size are matched against the list of patients currently waiting for a transplant. In addition, the recipient’s severity of illness and time on the waiting list are factored into the matching process.

How do organ/tissue recovery programs learn of potential donors?

When medical personnel in a San Diego hospital have identified a potential donor, they use a 24 hour number to contact the Donor Hotline. A Lifesharing procurement transplant coordinator then assists the referring hospital and the donor family with the medical, legal, and ethical aspects of donation.

Will the medical or nursing care be changed because of my decision to be a donor?

NO. The quality of medical and nursing care will not change, regardless of your decision. All patients will continue to receive the excellent care they deserve, since permission for organ/tissue donation only is effective in the event of death.

What is meant by 'brain death'?

Brain death occurs in patients who have suffered a severe injury to the head. As a result of the injury, the brain swells and obstructs its own blood supply. Without blood flow, all brain tissue dies. Artificial support systems may maintain functions such as heart beat and respiration for a few days, but not permanently. Brain death is an established medical and legal diagnosis of death. A physician can confirm brain death beyond a doubt, using a strict neurological examination. In the state of California, two physicians are required to legally declare a patient brain dead.

Does my religion support organ/tissue donation?

Moral leaders around the world favor such donations as expressions of the highest humanitarian ideals. The gift of an organ or tissue essential to the life of another human being is consistent with the principles of Judeo/Christian teachings. If you have any questions in this regard, consult your religious leader.

Can I change my mind after I register online to be an organ and/or tissue donor?

Yes. Simply log back on to the website with your confidential number and make any changes you want.

What can I donate?

Organs that can be donated for transplantation include kidneys, heart, lungs, liver, pancreas and small intestine. Tissues that can be donated include corneas, skin, heart valves, bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments.

Is there a need for organ/tissue donors?

YES! In the US, there are thousands of men, women, and children in need of organ transplants. Due to the shortage of donated organs, only a small percentage of those waiting actually receive their transplant. Some organs may be transplanted from a living related donor, but the majority of transplants are dependent upon the generosity of families who donate the organs and tissues of their deceased loved ones.

Who can donate?

Age limitations may apply with some specific organs and tissues, but in general, anyone who wishes to donate should inform their family of their wishes.

Questions about Specific Religious Beliefs

Ame & Ame Zion (African Methodist Episcopal)

Organ and tissue donation is viewed as an act of neighborly love and charity by these denominations. They encourage all members to support donation as a way of helping others.


The Amish will consent to transplantation if they are certain that it is for the health and welfare of the transplant recipient. They would be reluctant to transplant their organs if the transplant outcome was considered questionable. John Hostetler, world renowned authority on Amish religion and professor of anthropology at Temple University in Philadelphia, says in his book, “Amish Society,” “The Amish believe that since God created the human body, it is God who heals. ” However, nothing in the Amish understanding of the Bible forbids them from using modern medical services, including: surgery, hospitalization, dental work, anesthesia, blood transfusions or immunization.

Assembly of God

The Church has no official policy regarding organ and tissue donation. The decision to donate is left up to the individual. Donation is highly supported by the denomination.


Though Baptists generally believe that organ and tissue donation and transplantation are ultimately matters of personal conscience, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, adopted a resolution in 1988 encouraging physicians to request organ donation in appropriate circumstances and to “…encourage volunteerism regarding organ donations in the spirit of stewardship, compassion for the needs of others and alleviating suffering.” Other Baptist groups have supported organ and tissue donation as an act of charity and leave the decision to donate up to the individual.


While no official position has been taken by the Brethren denominations, according to Pastor Mike Smith, there is a consensus among the National Fellowship of Grace Brethren that organ and tissue donation is a charitable act so long as it does not impede the life or hasten the death of the donor or does not come from an unborn child.


Buddhists believe that organ and tissue donation is a matter of individual conscience and place high value on acts of compassion. Reverend Gyomay Masao, president and founder of the Buddhist Temple of Chicago says, “We honor those people who donate their bodies and organs to the advancement of medical science and to saving lives.” The importance of letting loved ones know your wishes is stressed.

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

The Christian Church encourages organ and tissue donation, stating that we were created for God’s glory and for sharing God’s love. A 1985 resolution, adopted by the General Assembly, encourages “…members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to enroll as organ donors and prayerfully support those who have received an organ transplant.”

Christian Science

The Church of Christ Scientist does not have a specific position regarding organ donation. According to the First Church of Christ Scientist in Boston, Christian Scientists normally rely on spiritual instead of medical means of healing. They are free, however, to choose whatever form of medical treatment they desire including a transplant. The question of organ and tissue for donation is an individual decision.

Church Of Christ

Organ transplants should not be a religious problem.


In 1982, the Episcopal Church passed a resolution recognizing the life giving benefits of organ, blood, and tissue donation and encouraging all Christians to become organ, blood, and tissue donors “as part of their ministry to others in the name of Christ, who gave His life that we may have life in its fullness.”

Greek Orthodox

According to spokesperson, Reverend Dr. Milton Efthimiou, director of the Department of Church and Society for the Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America, the Greek Orthodox Church is not opposed to organ donation as long as the organs and tissues in question are used to better human life, i.e., for transplantation or for research that will lead to improvements in the treatment and prevention of disease.


According to the Hindu Temple Society of North America, Hindus are not prohibited by religious law from donating their organs. This act is an individual’s decision. H. L. Trivedi, in “Transplantation Proceedings,” states that, “Hindu mythology has stories in which the parts of the human body are used for the benefit of other humans and society. There is nothing in the Hindu religion indicating that parts of humans, dead or alive, cannot be used to alleviate the suffering of other humans.”

Independent Conservative Evangelical

Generally, Evangelicals have no opposition to organ and tissue donation. Each church is autonomous and leaves the decision to donate up to the individual.


The religion of Islam believes in the principle of saving human lives. According to A. Sachedina in his “Transplantation Proceedings” article, “Islamic Views on Organ Transplantation”, “…the majority of the Muslim scholars belonging to various schools of Islamic law has invoked the principle of priority of saving human life and has permitted the organ transplant as a necessity to procure that noble end.

Jehovah's Witnesses

According to the Watch Tower Society, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe donation is a matter of individual decision. Jehovah’s Witnesses are often assumed to be opposed to donation because of their belief against blood transfusion. However, this merely means that all blood must be removed from the organs and tissues before being transplanted.


All four branches of Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist) support and encourage donation. According to Orthodox Rabbi Moses Tendler, Chairman of the Biology Department of Yeshiva University in New York City and Chairman of the Bioethics Commission of the Rabbinical Council of America, “If one is in the position to donate an organ to save another’s life, it’s obligatory to do so, even if the donor never knows who the beneficiary will be.


In 1984, the Lutheran Church in America passed a resolution stating that donation contributes to the well-being of humanity and can be “an expression of sacrificial love for a neighbor in need.” They call on “members to consider donating organs and make any necessary family and legal arrangements, including the use of a signed donor card.”


Mennonites have no formal position on donation, but are not opposed to it. They believe the decision to donate is up to the individual and/or their family.

Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints believes that the decision to donate is an individual one made in conjunction with family, medical personnel, and prayer. They do not oppose donation.


Pentecostals believe that the decision to donate should be left up to the individual.


Presbyterians encourage and support donation. They respect a person’s right to make decisions regarding their own body.

Roman Catholic

Catholics view organ donation as an act of charity, fraternal love and self sacrifice. Transplants are ethically and morally acceptable to the Vatican. Pope John Paul II in a recent statement said, “Over and above such outstanding moments, there is an everyday heroism, made up of gestures of sharing, big and small, which build up an authentic culture of life. A particularly praiseworthy example of such gestures is the donation of organs, performed in an ethically acceptable manner, with a view to offering a chance of health and even life itself to the sick who sometimes have no hope.” According to Father Leroy Wickowski, Director of the Office of Health Affairs of the Archdiocese of Chicago, “We encourage donation as an act of charity. It is something good that can result from tragedy and a way for families to find comfort by helping others. We do caution, however, that the organs are removed only after death and that people’s wishes are respected.”


In Shinto, the dead body is considered to be impure and dangerous, and thus quite powerful. “In folk belief context, injuring a dead body is a serious crime…” according to E. Namihira in his article, Shinto Concept Concerning the Dead Human Body. ”To this day it is difficult to obtain consent from bereaved families for organ donation or dissection for medical education or pathological anatomy…the Japanese regards them all in the sense of inuring a dead body.” Families are often concerned that they not injure the itai the relationship between the dead person and the bereaved people.

Society of Friends (Quakers)

Organ and tissue donation is believed to be an individual decision. The Society of Friends does not have an official position on donation.

Unitarian Universalist

Organ and tissue donation is widely supported by Unitarian Universalists. They view it as an act of love and selfless giving.

United Church of Christ

The United Church of Christ supports and encourages donation.

United Methodist

The United Methodist Church issued a policy statement in regard to organ and tissue donation. In it, they state that “The United Methodist Church recognizes the life-giving benefits of organ and tissue donation, and thereby encourages all Christians to become organ and tissue donor by signing and carrying cards or driver’s licenses, attesting to their commitment of such organs upon their death to those in need, as a part of their ministry to others in the name of Christ, who gave His life that we might have life in its fullness.”

Register to be an Organ and Tissue Donor Today!