1. Health

Donate Your Organs, Tissues or Body - An End of Life Decision (Part 2)


Updated October 19, 2013

Q. Some people object to organ, tissue or body donation due to religious reasons. How do I know what my religion dictates?

A. Religious beliefs are rarely a reason to reject the idea of donating ones organs, tissue or body. Both BeliefNet and the government's organ donation website maintain comprehensive lists of religions and their beliefs about donation and transplantation.

One group that is often surprised to learn that organ donation is not against their religion are traditional Jews. The Halachic Organ Donor Society (HODS) was organized by Orthodox Israeli and American rabbis to save lives by encouraging organ donation from Jews to the general public.

Q. How can I be sure doctors won't take my organs or tissues too soon? It seems like they might let me die just so they can get my body parts for transplantation.

A. This has been a fear, probably based on bad movies or vivid imaginations, but it's not reality. It's actually one of several myths addressed on the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) website.

Doctors and medical personnel have a first duty to make sure they keep you alive as long as they are able, and as long as your family wants you kept alive. Any other decisions about donations take place once there is no hope you can be kept alive any longer.

Q. How much does it cost to donate my body or organs when I die?

A. There is no cost to the donor or the donor's family. The family is still obligated to cover funeral costs. Transplantation costs are taken on by the patients who need the organs or tissues.

Q. OK. I think I would like to become an organ or whole body donor. What do I do now?

A. If you have a driver's license, begin by making the notation on the back of your license (there is a designated place to do so). In addition, you need to develop advanced directive documents and make your wishes known to your family. While you explain your wishes to your family, ask them to become organ or body donors, too.

Each state has different laws regarding how organ and tissue donations will be handled, and whether a driver's license designation is enough proof to allow surgeons to harvest your organs or tissues. UNOS maintains a list of each state and its organ and tissue donation laws, too.

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