Organ donation question!

  1. I have a question in regards to organ donation...

    If a person wants to donate organs (or specific ones) after death and they write it in their personal directive is it valid without an organ donation card?

    Also, can that person state that they want the organ to stay within a certain health region? For example, the American health care system or the Canadian one?

    Hope this makes sense! Any help would be greatly appreciated

  2. Visit gizzy76 profile page

    About gizzy76

    Joined: Apr '02; Posts: 131; Likes: 1
    Registered Nurse


  3. by   renerian
    Good question but I do not think you can direct the area. They keep a national list I believe and the next person on the list gets them. I think if your seriously ill your name can go to the top of the list. My license is marked, my family knows my wishes to donate. I am also on the bone marrow donor registry.

  4. by   NursieRN
    I think I have the answer to this, but I can't find it right now.
    I'll get back to you after work!
  5. by   gizzy76
    Thanks for the help so far! And good for you renarian for being a donator! I want to donate as well and figure that it will do good. I asked this question because a good friend of mine and I were talking about it and she wanted to keep her organs in Canada. I wasn't sure if it was possible or not.
  6. by   P_RN
    From the GIFT of LIFE Donor Program Page

    Can I donate organs to a friend or loved one awaiting a transplant?
    National organ allocation guidelines allow families of donors to designate recipients, usually family members or friends. Directed or designated donation, as it is commonly called, is an option.

    However, successful designated donations are so rare that the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the organization that oversees transplants in the United States does not track them. Of the 839 transplants performed in the Gift of Life service region during 2000, fewer than ten involved directed donations.

    Living donation is also an option. If you are interested in donating an organ to a friend or loved one awaiting a transplant, please visit an area transplant center for evaluation.

    Usually blood type and weight of both the donor and potential recipient play an important role in determining if the organ will be a match for both directed and living donation.
  7. by   Tephra
    Hey gizzy... good question! Here's the deal... you don't really need *anything* signed *as long as* your loved ones know your wishes, and agree to abide by them. One of our "donor moms" gave her teenage son's organs for transplant as a result of a 5-minute, off the cuff conversation with him several months before he died. That's all it takes. The signed card/license/etc. would be very helpful in an emergency to "get the ball rolling".

    (And yet, if your loved ones WON'T abide by your wishes, all manner of signed cards/forms/etc. may not help. The time it might take the hospital to get legal permissions/avoid lawsuits might be too long for the organs to be useful. Sad but true. Make sure the important folks know what's important to you.)

    As for location.. organs are offered locally (through the local OPO - Organ Procurement Organization) to the sickest patients there. If refused or not needed locally, the organ is offered to ever-widening circles up to the limit of the ischemia time for the organ (how long it can fly in a cooler full of special slush and still be viable):

    Table 1: Approximate preservation times for various organs
    Kidney -- up to 72 hours
    Liver -- up to 18 hours
    Heart -- up to 5 hours
    Heart/Lung -- up to 5 hours
    Pancreas -- up to 20 hours
    Corneas -- up to 10 days
    Bone Marrow -- varies by individual program
    Skin -- 5 years or more
    Bone -- 5 years or more
    Heart Valves -- 5 years or more
    ( )

    Offhand, I'm guessing there can't be many limits to geography/race/sex (as in someone saying, "I'll only give my husband's organs to a black/white/asian/etc. man from Texas" but organs are offered locally to start. Does that help a little?

    Also, lotsa good info at:

    Appreciate all you donors, and I respect the choices that others may make too. I'm a big fan of recycling, in any form!
  8. by   renerian
    Wow I did not know those storage times............Had no clue. Thanks for posting that.

  9. by   gizzy76
    Thanks so much Tephra! I had no idea that there was so much information out there! I'm passing these websites along to my friend and I will check them out myself too!

    Nurses are a blessing!
  10. by   nimbex
    Pleased be advised, that although you may make your intentions as an organ donor very clear.... at the time of your brain death or death, your next of kin can and will override any decisions that you make.... so if you feel strongly about this, tell ALL you loved ones about your wishes well in advance and appoint a health care proxy, power of attorney who will be able to follow your wishes.

    A donor card, when youre dead doesn not make you a donor, your family does.