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Organ Donation


Life goes on, be an organ donor

The Facts About Organ and Tissue Donation

Sponsored by IL Secretary of State

Who can be a donor?

Anyone, regardless of age, race, or gender can become an organ donor. Organs and tissue that can't be used for transplantation, due to advanced age or disease, can often be used to help find cures for serious illnesses.

How do I become a donor?

  • Tell your family. Hospitals will not remove any organs or tissue without permission from the donor's family.
  • Sign the back of you Illinois driver's license or ID card directly on the plastic with a ballpoint pen. Two people, preferably family members, must witness it.
  • Join the Organ/Tissue Donor Registry when you visit a Driver Services facility, or contact the Secretary of State's office at 1 (800) 210-2106 or register online at:

How are recipients selected?

Law under the National Transplant Act strictly mandates the selection process. A carefully monitored system allows full and equal access to donated organs and tissues for all potential recipients.

Criteria for deciding which person on the waiting list will receive organs or tissues from a particular donor depends on factors such as the tissue and blood type, body size and the degree of illness of the potential recipient.

Is there any cost or payment for organ/tissue donation?

The donor's family estate is never changed for the removal of any organs, nor do they receive any compensation.

Does organ/tissue donation affect funeral practices?

No. Families may make final funeral arrangements, including an open casket funeral, for burial or cremation.

Is there a conflict between using any organs/tissues and saving my life?

No. Donation is not considered until all efforts to save a person have not failed. The transplant team has no involvement in the patient's care prior to death and is notified only after death has occurred.

What organs/tissues can be donated?

Organs that can be donated are the heart, lungs, liver, pancreas and kidneys.

Among the tissues can be donated are corneas to restore sight, bone to prevent amputation, heart valves for children born with heart problems or adults with heart disease, tendons to replace damaged tissues in injured joints, saphenous veins for bypass surgeries and skin as a temporary covering to reduce pain and infection in burn victims. Up to 50 people can benefit from a single donor.

How is donation viewed by my religion?

All major western religions support donation as a final, charitable act of giving to others.

What if I change my mind?

You may ask to remove your name from the Donor Registry at any time by calling 1 (800) 201-2106. If you have signed the donor card on your license/ID card, simply write VOID across it.

Donor Registry

The Donor Registry is a computerized database that documents your wishes regarding donation. The Registry provides valuable information to families who are unaware of a loved one's intentions and are asked at the hospital for consent donate.

All information is confidential. Only organ banks and coroners have access.

How do I join registry?

When you visit the Driver's Services facility, you will be asked if you intend to sign the organ/tissue donor portion on the back of the driver's license and would like to join the registry. Your response is entered on your record. You can register by phone by calling the Secretary of State's office at 1(800) 210-2106, or via the Internet by accessing the Secretary of State's Organ/Tissue Donor registration page at

Does the registry replace the donor card on the back of my driver's license or ID card?

No. The Registry is meant as a supplement, not a replacement, to the uniform organ donor card on the back of the driver's license. But either action still depends on consent from the next-of-kin before any organs can be removed. So please talk to your family.

Facts Families Should Know About Donation

Today, all across Illinois, thousands of people are able to live fuller and more productive lives because of the lifesaving decisions made by families like yours. Although it is hard to believe at the time, it is possible for something positive to come from death...a new life for someone else.

Many donor families have found comfort in knowing that they and their loved one have helped life go on for someone else.

Families of prospective donors must give their permission before donation of a loved one's organs and tissues can occur. It is much easier for your family to make the decision to donate if they know your wishes ahead of time.

Will organ/tissue donation affect the level of medical care my loved one receives?

No. Donation is never considered until all efforts to save your loved one have failed.

How does the family communicate an individual's wish to donate organs/tissues?

Federal law states that hospitals must offer you the option of donating your loved one's organs. But don't wait to be asked. Approach the hospital staff or coroner's staff and make your loved one's wishes known.

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