Organ and Tissue Donation Information
The following information was copied from the Southwest Transplant Alliance website (organ.org) from their “How Donation Works” and “Donation Facts” webpages.
How Donation Works
Southwest Transplant Alliance (STA) maintains an agreement to act as the organ recovery agency with hospitals in our designated service areas. We work with 11 hospital transplant centers and more than 200 hospitals.
When a potential donor is identified by one of those hospitals, we are notified. A Transplant Coordinator, in conjunction with a Family Service Coordinator, immediately begins facilitating the donation process by searching the statewide registry to determine if the potential donor is registered. If the potential donor is registered, the family is notified and the donation process begins. If the potential donor is not registered, the Family Service Coordinator supports the donor family and consults them regarding possible donation.
STA then manages, along-side the recovery surgeons, the recovery and transportation of organs to the surgeons who will perform the transplants into waiting recipients.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Donation Process
What organs and tissues can be donated?
Organs and tissues that can be transplanted include the heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, intestine, corneas, bone, skin, connective tissues and heart valves.
How long does the process take?
The organ recovery process usually takes 24 to 36 hours after your loved one has died. If your family has time considerations regarding the viewing or funeral, please let our staff know so the process can be adjusted to meet your family’s needs.
How long can I stay with my loved one after the consent form is signed?
You can stay as long as you want. However, we may ask you to step out of the room when a procedure is performed, such as a chest X-ray or drawing blood. You may continue to visit your loved one during hospital visiting hours. If you need to leave the hospital, our staff can arrange to notify you of the progress of the donation.
Will I know who gets my loved one’s organs?
No. STA will send you a letter two to four weeks after the donation. The letter will have a brief description of each recipient, with no names or other information that would identify the recipient. All information between donor families and recipients is kept confidential until both parties agree to exchange information. See our Donor Families page to learn more about this.
Can I meet the people who receive my loved one’s organs?
Yes. A meeting is possible if both parties agree to this.
Organ Donation: More Facts About the Process
- A person must pass away in a hospital on a ventilator in order for their organs to be medically suitable for donation.
- Brain death because of a stroke or because of a traumatic injury are often the cause of death that make someone eligible for organ donation, though this is not always the case.
- In some instances, organs can be donated after cardiovascular death.
- Hospitals are required by federal law to notify the appropriate organ recovery organization of a potential donor.
- Donated organs are matched with recipients based on several factors, such as blood type, organ size and distance from the recipient’s transplant center.
- After a donor’s organs have been recovered, his or her body is released to a funeral home or mortuary service based on the family’s preferences.
- In most cases, the full range of funeral services is available after organ donation, including open-casket viewings and cremation.
There are more than 118,000 men, women and children in the United States, including more than 10,000 in Texas, who need an organ transplant to live. In 2016, more than 30,000 organ transplants were performed in the United States, more than in any previous year. While the number of registered donors is steadily growing, we need more people to register. Here are the facts about organ, eye and tissue donation.
- Every 10 minutes, someone new is added to the national transplant waiting list.
- Every year, about 8,000 people die waiting for an organ.
- On average, 22 people die each day waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant.
- Organs and tissue are not matched with recipients according to race or ethnicity. People of different races frequently match each other.
- The number of Hispanic transplant recipients has more than doubled in the past 20 years, from 1,535 in 1993 to 4,133 in 2013.
The Facts About Donation
- FACT: Doctors and other clinical staff do everything possible to save your life. If they don’t, they could lose their license to practice medicine. You will only be considered a potential organ donor after all lifesaving measures have been exhausted.
- FACT: All major religions in the United States support organ and tissue donation and view it as a final act of love and generosity.
- FACT: In many cases, the full range of funeral services is available after organ and tissue donation, including open-casket viewings and cremation.
- FACT: The donor’s family pays for medical care prior to organ and tissue recovery, and for funeral expenses. They do not pay any of the costs associated with donation.