Organ Donation

Here are questions, answers, and information about donating organs.

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Organ Donation is dedicated to providing services related to advance directives, including specifying your organ donation wishes in the MyFuneral™ service.  Below are some questions and answers related to organ donation.

What exactly is organ donation?

Many of your internal organs are still functional after you have died. Organ donation is a process to surgically remove useful organs after you have died, and pass these to recipients who are otherwise healthy, but need a particular functional organ. In North America alone over 50 people receive organs each day but there are currently tens of thousands of patients waiting to receive functional organs. Often these people are in life threatening conditions.

Will I qualify to be a donor?

Any adult can express a desire to donate their organs after they have died. Whether or not the organs are donated is determined on a case by case basis at the time of death. There are no age restrictions, or health restrictions on expressing this desire. Many elderly people have been successful donors, and children can also donate with parental consent. If you support the principle of organ donation you should not be discouraged based on your personal health or condition. The suitability of your organs for a specific recipient will be determined by medical practitioners, based on known information, a series of tests and the characteristics of the recipients waiting for organs.

How will people know that I want to donate my organs?

It is extremely important to notify your loved ones of your desire to donate organs. You can at a minimum indicate this desire on your driver's license or by carrying an organ donor card. Expressing this intent in your Last Will and Testament is impractical, as most donations will need to be carried out well in advance of your Will being located and read.

By stating your desire to donate organs in the MyFuneral™ service here at, you will be making your designated personal "Keyholders®" aware of your desire prior to any funeral arrangements being made. By discussing your wishes with your loved ones you will also be making them aware of your intent for organ donation ahead of time. You should also consider carrying a wallet card (ordered using the MyWalletCards™ service) so that your specific wishes regarding organ donation can be accessed quickly when required.

What organs can I donate?

Donations can be made of both organs and tissues. The term "tissues" refers to anything that is not considered to be an internal organ. The organs that can be donated are the heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver and intestines. The tissues that can be donated are the cornea, skin, bone marrow, heart valves and connective tissue. The organs are used to help a recipient with that specific organ failure. The tissues are used to treat blindness, burns, arthritis, heart disease and a number of other congenital defects. For example, heart valves are often used to treat children with defects in their own hearts.

Can I donate my eyes if I wear glasses?

Yes. Even totally blind people can donate their eyes because poor eyesight does not prohibit eye donation. Only the cornea (clear, front part of the eye) is used for corneal transplantation. The sclera (white part of the eye) can be used for research (if you wish) to aid in future treatment of eye diseases.

Do organ donations save lives?

Absolutely. Many organ and tissue donations are used to save a life, while many more are used to enhance lives, such as donations of corneas which offer the gift of sight to a blind person.

What will happen at the time of donation?

First of all, donation will never happen until you are clinically dead. This means that "brain death" must occur --- where the brain is no longer functioning although the function of other organs may be artificially supported. The artificial circulation of blood through the body can sustain organs for some time, although even without this support organ donation can still be performed successfully within a short period of time after death. After the organs and tissues have been removed, many can be stored until a recipient has been identified. Furthermore, different organs have different longevities. For example, corneas are usually transplanted within 24 hours, but some tissues like heart valves can be stored for up to five years before they are used.

Will the donation be successful?

Successful organ donation and organ transplant of the donated organs is not guaranteed, but the attempt at organ donation is sometimes the only immediate option available for a person close to death. Success rates vary for different organs but range between 70 and 90 percent. For example heart transplants are successful in over 80 percent of cases. It is important to note that one person can donate many organs and tissues, and so there is a possibility that a number of people will benefit from a single donor.

Can I donate any of these things before I die?

Some donations can be made while you are living, particularly blood and bone marrow. Relatives or spouses can donate a kidney, a partial liver and a partial lung with a particular recipient in mind. In addition bone can sometimes be donated if you are, for example, having bone removed for hip replacement surgery.

What if I've already decided to donate my body to medical science?

Organ and whole body donation are two separate requests. The donor must decide on whether to donate their whole body to a medical school or whether to donate individual organs at the time of death. Whatever the decision, a donor will receive a donation wallet card that should be carried at all times.

Won't organ donation get in the way of carrying out my funeral arrangements?

Normally, funeral arrangements can be carried out as usual. Once a patient is declared dead, and the family gives their consent, donation is usually completed within 24 hours.

Will I still be able to have a viewing at my funeral ceremony?

Donation does not disfigure the body and does not interfere with funeral plans, including open casket services. Organ donation is a surgical operation and will not disfigure the body in any way.

What does organ donation cost?

The donor's family does not pay for the cost of the organ donation. All costs related to the donation of organs and tissues are paid by the recipient, usually through insurance or health care programs (e.g. Medicare).

What if I have already filled out the organ donation form on my drivers licence? Will my decisions made there take precedence over the decisions I make here in the MyFuneral™ service?

If your organ donation form is signed by yourself and two witnesses it is a legal document in some jurisdictions. However, it is more likely to represent your willingness to donate. If your family vehemently objects to these wishes then it is unlikely that organ donation will occur. It is mandatory to make your wishes clear and unambiguous to your family, which is why the MyFuneral™ service exists. If there is an inconsistency in the expression of your willingness to donate, the decision will rest with your next of kin.

What will I be paid?

You cannot sell human organs and tissues. Contrary to popular myth, there is not a healthy black market in illegally obtained organs. Recipients are not ranked in terms of their ability to pay, only by their medical need and suitability for receiving the organ.

How do I specify my organ donation wishes?

The MyFuneral™ service here at will let you specify your organ donation wishes, as well as make many other decisions regarding your funeral and other arrangements after you have passed away.  It is important that you document these wishes so that they can be communicated to your survivors when the time is right.

Does it matter where I live?

Services such as MyFuneral™, MyLifeLocker™, MyVault™, and MyMessages™ do not create legal documents and make no assumptions about your country of residence. 

We have worked extensively with lawyers in the United States to ensure that the legal documents created by the MyWill™, MyExpatWill™, MyPowerOfAttorney™ and MyLivingWill™ services are up to date with the laws in all of the states in the United States, including: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington D.C., West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.  Hence, our services can be used to generate legal documents in any state in the United States with the exception of Louisiana.

If you have any doubts about the legal standing of any documents in your jurisdiction, feel free to seek legal counsel in your area to have your documents reviewed.

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