Becoming an organ and/or body donor is easy and beneficial – this generosity positively impacts lives for years to come. With organ donation, as many as 50 lives are saved or improved each day. Unfortunately, people die every day due to a shortage of donated organs. Body donation ensures the education of future health professionals as well as contributes to continued research for medical advances. The donation process is simple and the benefits are invaluable.
Donate Life Minnesota is an online organ and tissue donor registry. As a resident of Minnesota, the site recommends you take several steps to make sure your wishes to become an organ donor are carried out:
- Register on the Minnesota Donor Registry at www.donatelifemn.org
- Indicate your wishes on your driver’s license or state ID when you apply for or renew it.
- Inform your family of your decision, making your wishes known will make for a smoother process upon your death. Donate Life has a family notification card on their website that can be either emailed or printed.
There is no cost to the donor’s family for organ or tissue donation. All expenses are assumed by the procurement organization and passed on to the transplant recipients and their health insurance companies.
Who is eligible to donate?
Most people are eligible to donate their organs and/or tissue. Potential donors are evaluated when the occasion arises, but the only individuals who absolutely cannot donate in Minnesota are those who test positive for the HIV virus. People with diabetes, hepatitis and cancer are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Age is generally not a factor. Organs of all sizes are needed, and even less than ideal organs may be used as temporary measures to save a life until a more suitable organ becomes available. All major religions support organ and tissue donation as a charitable act and many even have drafted formal statements encouraging people to become donors.
What can be donated?
The organs of the body that can be transplanted are kidneys, heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, and intestines. Depending upon the organ, most must be used within 6 and 72 hours of removing them from the donor’s body. Tissue donations include: corneas, the middle ear, skin, heart valves, bone, veins, cartilage, tendons and ligaments. Donated tissue can be preserved and stored at a tissue bank for later use.
WHOLE BODY DONATION
Some people wish to take donation a step further and donate their entire body to science. Medical schools need bodies to teach students about anatomy, and research facilities need them to study diseases.
Almost everyone is eligible to donate their body to science except for those who have donated their organs, have HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, active tuberculosis or syphilis. Bodies may also be rejected in cases of severe obesity, decomposition, trauma or extensive surgeries.
If you wish to donate your entire body to medical science, the best route to take is to make arrangements directly through a medical school. In Minnesota there are two such programs:
Department of Anatomy
Stabile Building 9-38
200 First Street SW
Rochester, MN 55905
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA, MEDICAL SCHOOL
Anatomy Bequest Program
3-005 Nils Hasselmo Hall
312 Church Street SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455
The chosen medical establishment should be notified of a donor’s death as soon as possible.
Donors may have a funeral before their body is transported to the medical facility, but special preparations need to be made. The receiving organization will give these instructions to your funeral director. Both the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic will cremate the remains and inter them at their own facilities or return them to the donor’s family upon the family’s request.
The donors’ families/next-of-kin may take comfort knowing that dignity and respect for their loved ones’ donated bodies are maintained at all times. This generosity in spirit is fully recognized; extreme safeguards are taken to ensure the bodies are handled with appropriate care and respect.