Deceased Donor Registry

Deceased Organ Donation Overview

Deceased organ donation is what most people think of when they hear the term “organ donor.”  Although 90% of Americans support the concept of deceased organ donation, less than 60% are registered as donors.  More organ donors are urgently needed to meet the need of more than 100,000 people on the national transplant waiting list.

Registering your intentions to give the gift of life at the time of your death is a selfless decision, and one that takes a heavy emotional burden off of your loved ones.  Many grieving families have reported that knowing that another life was saved helped them cope with their terrible loss.

At the end your own life, you can provide life-saving organs to save the lives of as many as 8 organ recipients.

The National Donate Life Registry®

EMS Gives Life recommends joining the National Donate Life Registry® to register your intention to be an organ donor at the time of your death.  This national donor registry, managed by Donate Life America, is the easiest way to sign up as an organ donor.  Donate Life America® is the lead agency in a national system that matches available organs from a donor with people on the national transplant waiting list.  All states have their own state donor registry, often accessed through the state’s motor vehicle registry department.  State donor registries are separate from the national registry.  While state registries are a legitimate option, the national registry allows you to join once and rest assured that your registration will always be current, no matter where you live, move, or travel.  We encourage everyone in the EMS community (and beyond) to become a registered organ donor.

How to Join an Organ Donor Registry

Joining the National Donate Life Registry, or your state donor registry, is very simple.  Click on one of the options below to get started.

National Donate Life Registry

You can join the National Donate Life Registry online through Donate Life America’s website, www.  You can also access and edit your current registration from this site. Registering only takes a few minutes.

iPhone Health App

Through a partnership between Donate Life America and Apple, you can join the National Donate Life Registry through the Health app on your iPhone.  Your organ donation status becomes part of your medical ID.

State Donor Registries

If you prefer to register with your home state donor registry, please do so.  The most important thing is that you register.  Click here to find links to your state’s donor registry.  Online sign up is quick and easy!

Common Questions & Concerns

If I’m listed as an organ donor, emergency department staff won’t work as hard to save my life?  Emergency department doctors, nurses, and other personnel focus on saving your life when you’re in their care – not someone else’s.  Your status as an organ donor does not change your patient care.  Only after death, or being declared clinically and legally dead, is organ donation for transplant a consideration.

Who can be an organ donor?  All people, 18 years and older, are potential donors, regardless of medical history.  Transplant specialists will determine which organs or tissues can be donated at the time of your death.

Which organs/tissues can be donated?  The list of transplantable organs and tissues continues to grow with ongoing advancements in medicine.  Organs currently include: heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas, and intestines.  Tissues include eyes/corneas, heart valves, bone and associated tissue, skin, veins and arteries, and nerves.  

Does my religion approve of organ and tissue donation?  Most major religions in the United States support organ donation as an act of generosity.  A discussion with your spiritual leader or clergy is encouraged.

Is there a cost to my family or my estate?  There will be no cost to your family or your estate if you choose to be an organ donor.  The donor’s family pays only for medical expenses incurred before death and for funeral costs.  Costs for organ removal and transplant are charged to the recipient.  

Can I still have the funeral arrangements of my choice if I’m an organ donor?  The funeral arrangements of your choice, including an open casket funeral, will be possible following donation.  Organ donation does not leave visible signs that would interfere with any funeral arrangements.  Care and respect is a priority.

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