Organ Donor

Organ donation can sometimes be misunderstood, especially in times when decisions must be made quickly. The following are facts from the Montana organ donation registry. Anyone can be a potential donor regardless of age, race or medical history. Most major religions in the United States support organ, eye and tissue donation, seeing it as the final act of love and generosity toward others.

If you are sick or injured and admitted to the hospital, the number one priority is saving your life. Organ, eye and tissue donation can only be considered after you are deceased. There is no discrimination due to age, sex, race, sexual orientation, occupation, social status, financial status or any other factor when determining who gives or receives an organ. An open casket funeral is possible for organ, eye and tissue donors. Through the entire donation process the body is treated with care, respect and dignity.

There is no cost to the donor or their family for organ, eye and tissue donation. Registering as a donor for organ, eye and tissue donation does not include whole body donation.

Types of Donation

Eye Donation
Not only is the cornea used, the sclera (the white part of the eye) is needed for ocular graft surgery in the treatment of eye disease. One eye donor can help up to 10 people. Corneal transplant has a success rate that exceeds 95 percent. Anyone can be an eye donor. Cataracts, poor eyesight (wearing glasses or contacts) and age do not prohibit eye donation.

Tissue Donation
Donated heart valves can replace damaged ones, allowing the heart to function well again. Special grafts help patients with spinal deformities live normal lives. Musculoskeletal tissue replaces bone, tendons and ligaments lost to cancer, severe trauma, degenerative joint disease, arthritis and other conditions. Skin can save the lives of burn victims.

Blood Donation
Blood donation is the process by which blood is voluntarily drawn to be stored in a blood bank to help those suffering from a traumatic injury, a blood-related disease or cancer, as well as those needing an organ or marrow transplant.

Marrow Donation
Marrow donation is the process by which the spongy material found inside the bone is removed. The marrow contains immature stem cells that can develop into different types of blood cells for the purpose of carrying oxygen to the body, clotting blood and fighting infection.

Whole Body Donation
Whole body donation is when the entire body is donated to science after death. Whole body donors cannot be organ, eye and tissue donors. By agreeing to research when registering for organ, eye and tissue donation, you are not agreeing to whole body donation.

How to Be a Donor

Designate your decision on your driver's license. Do this when you obtain or renew your license.

Register with your state donor registry: Montana Registry.

Sign a donor card now. Carry the donor card with you until you can designate your donation decision on your driver's license or join a donor registry. Download a page of eight donor cards.