FAQs ABOUT DONATION

The following are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about organ and tissue donation and transplantation.

The FAQs are presented in the following categories:



    • Who can sign up on the Joshua Abbott Organ and Tissue Donor Registry?
      The Joshua Abbott Organ and Tissue Donor Registry allows Floridians to register their authorization to donate specific or all organs and tissues upon their death. If you are between 13 and 17 years old, you can join the Joshua Abbott Organ and Tissue Donor Registry, but your parents or legal guardian will make the final decision about organ and tissue donation at the appropriate time.  You should tell your parents or legal guardian your decision to join the Registry. -top-

      Can my family override my decision to donate?
      Once you sign up on the Joshua Abbott Organ and Tissue Donor Registry, your donor designation 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. -top-

      Why register? Isn’t it enough to have a donor card or organ donor on my driver license?
      A signed and witnessed donor card does grant authorization for organ and/or tissue recovery, but due to the suddenness and emotion surrounding the circumstances, a donor card is rarely available at the time a family is approached regarding donation. Furthermore, Florida has never had a record of who signed donor cards. Without documentation of a loved one's wishes, families often decline to authorize donation. By signing up on the Joshua Abbott Organ and Tissue Donor Registry, your desire to donate is stored in a secure, confidential database. Should your death result in the opportunity for you to be a donor, an official record of your donor designation will be readily available and can be shown to your family. Thus, should you be medically suitable to donate, your wishes will be respected, and your family will be relieved of the burden of making a decision on your behalf. -top-

      Does my age, pre-existing medical condition or sexual orientation prevent me from being a donor?
      Do not rule out yourself. 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 or sexual orientation do not exclude you from being a suitable organ and tissue donor.  In the event you are in a position to be an actual donor, medical specialists will evaluate your medical history to determine your suitability to donate. If you wish to be a donor, sign up. -top-

      Can I sign up my children?
      Yes.  Until registrants are 18 years old, their parents or legal guardian will make the final decision about organ and tissue donation at the appropriate time. -top-

      How do you ensure someone does not sign up another person without his or her knowledge or consent?
      Each registrant will be asked to submit personal and identifying information, which will be verified by Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. -top-

      Does the Registry allow me to sign up to be a marrow or living organ donor?
      We are pleased to include on our Web site links to information about blood, marrow and living kidney donation here. -top-

      Does my registration grant consent for whole body donation?
      Signing up on this Registry does not grant permission for your body to be donated to medical schools. Organ and tissue donation for transplant or research purposes is not the same as willed body donation. Willed whole body donation programs are associated with teaching hospitals at major universities, and arrangements must be made in advance directly with the institutions. Please note: should you choose to consent to whole body donation, you will be unable to donate your organs or tissues for transplant. -top-

      I have an advance directive authorizing donation of my organs. Should I also register on the Joshua Abbott Organ and Tissue Donor Registry, or will the advance directive be enough?
      In Florida, signing up on the Joshua Abbott Organ and Tissue Donor Registry is the only way to fully ensure your decision to donate is honored. Due to the rapid and emotional nature of events surrounding sudden death, often times families do not have time to check legal documents prior to being approached about donation. However, since Florida’s organ and tissue donor registry is viewed in all potential donation cases prior to discussing donation with an individual’s family, we are able to share proof of registration with family members at the time donation is discussed with them. -top-
    • 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 the “Donation Limitations” box on the first signup page, the subsequent page allows you to opt out of donating specific organs and/or tissues or having your organs and/or tissues donated for research. -top-

      How do people in other states sign up? Is there a national registry?
      Registrations from out-of-state residents are accepted on Florida and serve as an advance directive in accordance with Florida State law in the event one’s death occurs in this state. There is no national registry. All matters concerning organ and tissue donation are under the jurisdiction of each state’s respective laws. For information on how to become a donor in other states, go to www.donatelife.net and click on the state in question.  Additionally, the nation’s 58 organ procurement organizations make every effort to determine the registry status of each potential donor, even if they are not a resident of the state in which they pass away. -top-

      What if I don’t have an e-mail account or access to a computer?
      If you do not have an e-mail account, you can get a free one by visiting Hotmail, Google or Yahoo.  If you do not have access to your own computer, you may sign up at your neighborhood library. -top-

      I don’t want to sign up online. Is there any other way to register?
      In addition to online registrations, you may sign up with Florida’s organ and tissue donor 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 via the DHSMV, you can contact Donate Life Florida, and we will mail you a registration form. -top-

      How do I print my registration card?
      The screen that confirms your registration displays your unique registration ID and password. It also includes a donor card that can be cut out and placed in your wallet. It is not necessary to carry a donor card, as you are registered in the database. At any time, you may return to the Registry Web site, click on Update My Donor Profile, enter your login information and print the confirmation screen. -top-

      What do I do if I’ve lost my Registration ID number and/or my password?
      Please contact our registry administrator at info@donatelifeflorida.org.  You also may sign up again with your most current information, and your most recent registration record will be used in the event you are a potential donor. However, we recommend you keep your registration ID and password in a safe place for making updates. -top-

      How do I make changes to my registration?
      If you sign up online, the screen that confirms your registration displays your unique registration ID and password. If you sign up at the DHSMV, your driver license number acts as your registration ID number. At any time, you may visit the registry Web site, click on Update My Donor Profile, enter your login information, then change your password, personal information, specify donation limitations, or remove your name from Florida’s Registry. -top-


      If something should happen to me while I am traveling, what role does my registration play?
      All matters concerning organ and tissue donation are under the jurisdiction of each state’s or country’s respective laws. While your registration will not serve as legally binding consent for donation outside Florida, it will serve as a clear indication of your wish to donate and will be shared with your family when they are approached by the local organ recovery organization. -top-

      How do I cancel my registration if I signed up online?
      If you sign up online, the screen that confirms your registration displays your unique registration ID and password. If you sign up via the DHSMV, your driver license number acts as your registration ID number. At any time, you may visit the registry Web site, click on Update My Donor Profile, enter your login information and then check the box to remove your name from the Registry. -top-

      How do I cancel my registration if I signed up via the DHSMV?
      If you sign up on the Joshua Abbott Organ and Tissue Donor Registry at the DHSMV and wish to cancel your registration, you need to (1) remove your name from the list of designated donors and (2) remove the donor designation from your driver license or ID card. First, visit the registry Web site, click on Update My Donor Profile, enter your login information, and check the box to remove your name from the Registry’s list of designated donors. You will also have to visit a DHSMV office to purchase a new driver license without the organ donor designation.  Verification of donor designation is only done through the Registry database.  Be sure to tell your family and friends your decision about organ donation. If anything does happen to you, your family members will be asked about your wishes. If you try to access your record, and it cannot be found, please allow time for the information to transfer. If after seven days you are still unable to access your donor profile, please contact Donate Life Florida at info@donatelifeflorida.org. -top-

      What is organ and tissue donation?
      Organ and tissue donation is the process of recovering organs and tissues from a deceased person and transplanting them into others in order to save or enhance the lives of those in need. Up to eight lives can be saved through organ donation, and dozens more lives may be improved through tissue donation. -top-

      How many people need donated organs and tissue?
      Today, more than 100,000 children and adults await life-saving organ transplants. More than 3,500 of them are listed at transplant centers in Florida. In addition, hundreds of thousands more wait patiently for the gift of tissue donation. Each year, approximately 6,000 people, or 17 per day die while waiting for an organ transplant. -top-

      What organs and tissues may be donated?
      The most commonly transplanted organs are the kidneys, liver, heart, lungs and pancreas. Although only a small number of intestinal transplants have been performed, this treatment holds great hope for patients whose intestines have been severely damaged through illness, trauma or birth defects. As for tissue, skin is used as a temporary dressing for burns, serious abrasions and other exposed areas. Bone is used in orthopedic surgery to facilitate healing of fractures or prevent amputation.  Heart valves are used to replace defective valves. Tendons are used to repair torn ligaments on knees or other joints.  Veins are used in cardiac by-pass surgery.  Corneas can restore sight. -top-

      If I suffer a grave injury, how does the process work?
      All hospitals are required to contact their designated OPO when they identify a potential donor.  When the OPO has been contacted, they check the Registry to see if the individual registered to be an organ and/or tissue donor.  If the individual is registered, this information will be shared with the family at the appropriate time, and they will be consulted about the donor’s medical/social history.  The OPO also evaluates the medical suitability of the donor, manages the medical care of the donor until transplantation can take place, and consults the national database to match the donor and a patient in need of a transplant based on medical criteria, such as blood and tissue type.  Finally the OPO coordinates the transportation of the life-saving gifts with the surgeons who will perform the recovery operation and subsequent transplant surgeries. -top-

      Who is responsible for managing the organ donation process?
      Florida’s four federally designated, non-profit  organ procurement organizations (OPO) are exclusively responsible for facilitating the process, and only OPO authorized staff has access to both the donor and recipient medical information, which makes accurate matching possible. Organ recovery and allocation is regulated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. -top-

      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. -top-

      How can my organs and tissues be used for research?
      Organs and tissues not recovered for transplant may be recovered by the local organ, tissue or eye recovery programs for pre-approved medical research if the donor (or family, in lieu of a registry record) authorizes such. All research projects are carefully evaluated by the donor programs, and only those projects that offer clear medical benefit and are administered by experienced, reputable organizations are approved. -top-

      What if I don’t want my organs and/or tissues to be used for research?
      Donated organs and tissues may be used for two purposes: transplantation and medical research. The Joshua Abbott Organ and Tissue Donor Registry allows you to opt out of donating organs and/or tissues for research. During the signup process, check off the “Donation Limitations” box and check the “For Research” box under both Organs and Tissues. If you have already signed up online or via the DHSMV, you may go to the registry Web site, click on Update My Donor Profile, enter your login information, and then specify donation limitations. While updating your profile you may also change your password and personal information or remove your name from the Joshua Abbott Organ and Tissue Donor Registry. -top-

      Can I specify which organs and tissues I donate?
      Yes.  By checking the “Donation Limitations” box on the first signup page, the subsequent page allows you to opt out of donating specific organs and/or tissues or donating for medical research. -top-

      Can organs be given to people of a different racial group or gender?
      In most cases, race and gender are not factors. However, organ size (which can be affected by gender) is critical to match a donor heart, lung or liver with a recipient. Genetic makeup can be a factor when matching a kidney or pancreas donor and recipient because of the importance of tissue matching with these organs. Optimal tissue matching can happen within the same racial and genetic background. For example, an individual of Asian descent may be a better match to a donor that shares the same ethnicity than to someone of a different race. However, cross-racial donations can and do happen with great success when matches are available. -top-

      If a family member is in need of an organ at the time of my death, can I specify that he or she is to receive it?
      “Directed donation” of an organ to a specific individual is legal, but it must be done at the time of donation. (Organs may not be directed to someone within a group or class of individuals.) Directed donation is best supported by an advance directive or may be granted by next of kin at the time of donation. For detailed information on Advance Directives, please visit the Florida Medical Association Web site at http://www.fmaonline.org. -top-

      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. Every attempt is made to save your life. In fact, patients must receive the most aggressive life-saving care in order to be potential organ donors. -top-

      Under what circumstances can a person be an organ donor?
      In almost all cases resulting in organ donation, the patient has suffered a traumatic brain injury and brain death. After all life-saving efforts have been exhausted, and it is determined that the patient’s death is imminent, the patient must remain on ventilator support. The reason for this is the heart and lungs must continue to function after the patient dies so that the transplantable organs continue to function.  Once the heart stops beating, organs begin to shut down, limiting their viability for life-saving transplantation. -top-

      Under what circumstances can a person be a tissue donor?
      Virtually all deceased persons, regardless of cause of death, may potentially be tissue donors. Unlike organ donation, it is not necessary for heart and lung function to be maintained on a ventilator. Once a death is reported to the tissue agency, protocols require the family be contacted within several hours regarding the opportunity to donate. -top-

      If I am a donor, what kind of tests do they conduct on my body?
      Once death has been declared and authorization determined through the donor registry or by the family, medical professionals must conduct tests to determine whether the patient is suitable to be a donor. Blood tests and other standard medical procedures determine the patient’s blood type, kidney and liver function, exposure to transmittable diseases, and tissue typing for the purpose of matching the kidneys to recipients. These tests are medically necessary in order to save as many lives as possible. -top-

      I think I may need an organ transplant. How do I get added to the list?
      The process of joining the national organ transplant waiting list begins with your physician referring you to a transplant center. The transplant center will then evaluate you to determine whether you are a suitable candidate for a transplant. -top-

      Can organs be sold?
      No.  Buying and selling organs for the purpose of transplantation is illegal in the United States. Under the Florida Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, human organs cannot be bought or sold, and violators are subject to fines and imprisonment. This strict regulation prevents any type of "black market" for organs in the United States. Medically speaking, illegal sales are impossible because recovered organs must be appropriately matched to recipients and distributed according to national policy established by UNOS. -top-

      Is my family or estate 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 before the donation of organs or tissues in attempt to save the donor’s life and funeral expenses remain the responsibility of the donor’s family. -top-

      Who pays for donated organs?
      All costs associated with organ recovery are assumed by the recovery organizations. These costs are then reimbursed by transplant centers which then bill private and public insurance plans. -top-

      What if my family members are opposed to donation?
      Once an individual has made the decision to be an organ and tissue donor and has joined the Joshua Abbott Organ and Tissue Donor Registry, that individual’s decision is honored. Family members cannot override an individual’s decision to donate. At the time when donation is possible, family members will be informed of their loved one's wish to donate and walked through the process so they will know and understand how the recovery agency will carry out their loved one’s decision to be a donor. In the event of a loved one’s sudden death, it will ease the family’s pain to already know the wishes of their loved one regarding donation. For this reason, we recommend that you tell your family about your donation decision today. -top-

      Does my religion allow donation?
      With the lone exception of Shinto, all major religions throughout the world support or permit organ and tissue donation, with most viewing it as a humanitarian act of giving. Transplantation is consistent with the life-preserving traditions of most faiths, and others consider donation a matter of personal choice. Individuals are encouraged to consult their spiritual or religious leader with specific questions. -top-

      Does donation affect funeral arrangements?
      The body is treated with great respect and dignity throughout the 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 and the family may then proceed with funeral arrangements. -top-

      Why do you ask for my ethnicity during the signup process?
      We ask for each registrant to identify their ethnicity as a way to monitor our effectiveness at encouraging people from all of Florida’s diverse communities to sign up with the Registry. Organs are allocated anonymously according to medical criteria, such as blood type and size/weight compatibility. Transplant recipients have no control or advance knowledge of the age, race, gender, or ethnicity of their deceased donors. -top-

      Do the donor and recipient families meet?
      Sometimes.  The identity of all parties is kept confidential; however the donor families and the transplant recipients may receive such information as age, gender, occupation and state of residence. Individually, the recipient may be told the circumstances of the donor’s death. The donor family may be informed of the transplants that were performed and receive information on improvement of the recipients’ health. The donor programs facilitate anonymous correspondence to recipients of the donor.  If both the donor family and recipient express an interest in having direct communication or even meeting, the donor programs will help to facilitate such a meeting. -top-
    • Who is responsible for administering the Registry?
      Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration selected Donate Life Florida as the contracted vendor to create the Joshua Abbott Organ and Tissue Donor Registry. Donate Life Florida is a coalition of the state’s organ, tissue and eye donor programs. -top-

      What is the Registry’s relationship to the Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (DHSMV)?
      The Florida driver license and ID card application and renewal forms include the question: "Do you wish to register to be an organ and tissue donor?" Checking YES on the form automatically enrolls the applicant in Florida’s donor registry. -top-

      How can I be sure my information is kept confidential?
      Donate Life Florida adheres to the strictest and most up-to-date guidelines to keep all personal information confidential. Aside from standard information such as name and address, the only sensitive information we require is place of birth, while mother’s maiden name and driver license number are optional. -top-

      How can I make a financial contribution to Donate Life Florida?
      We appreciate your interest in contributing to our efforts and helping people in need of organ and tissue transplants. Donate Life Florida, a non-profit 501(C)3 charitable organization, is dedicated to saving the lives of thousands of Floridians awaiting life-saving transplants. Your monetary donations are tax-deductible to the maximum extent allowed by law. Contributions may be made to Donate Life Florida, by clicking here. Thank you for supporting the effort to save lives through donation. Donate Life Florida!-top-


Return to Registry to sign-up