Who can be an organ, eye and tissue donor?

Anyone regardless of age, gender, race or medical history will be considered for organ, eye and tissue donation. Decisions about medical suitability are made at the time of death by professionally trained and experienced medical professionals.

What if I change my mind?

Your most recent access to the registry, whether it be via your driver’s license, sending in a paper form or accessing the registry online will be the information maintained in the registry. To access the registry go through alaskadonorregistry.org. If you alter your record or decide to remove yourself, that will override any past information. All information on the Alaska Donor Registry is completely confidential.

Does the donor’s family incur the cost of donation?

There is no cost to the donor’s family for organ and tissue donation. All costs associated with the donation are paid by the recovery programs. Other life-saving hospital or funeral home expenses, that are unrelated to donation, will remain the responsibility of the donor’s family.

Are there religious objections to donation?

Most major religions support anatomical donation as a charitable and humanitarian act of kindness and giving. Transplantation is consistent with the life-preserving traditions of these faiths. Individuals are encouraged to consult their spiritual advisor with specific questions or concerns they may have.

Will donation affect an open casket funeral?

Organ, eye and tissue recovery is a delicate surgery that does not mutilate or disfigure the donor. The donor’s body is treated with care, respect and dignity. An open casket funeral is still possible after donation. Life Alaska can address specific funeral related questions with families before donation occurs.

Are organs and tissues bought and sold?

According to the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act of 1984, human organs and tissue cannot be bought or sold in the United States. Organ, eye and tissue recovery agencies are strictly regulated; violators are subject to fines and imprisonment if there is any monetary exchange. Organs are distributed according to national policy established and monitored by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).

Can the donor family meet the recipient(s)?

The gift of donation is a confidential process. No pressure is placed on donor families or transplant recipients to meet or make contact with one another. After donation, the donor family and recipient(s) may receive general information about one another (e.g., age, gender, occupation and geographical region). No identifying details are shared unless consent has been given by both parties. Correspondence between donor families and recipients is becoming increasingly more common. Life Alaska, LifeCenter Northwest, and transplant center social workers facilitate this communication to ensure confidentiality and provide emotional support.

Will doctors try to save a patient whom they suspect is an organ donor?

There is no conflict between saving the patient’s life and organ, eye and tissue donation. The doctors who work to save a life are different than those involved in donation and transplantation. Hospitals do not have access to the Alaska Donor Registry to view donation decisions. It is only after every attempt has been made to save a life, and after death has been declared, the donation process begins.

How is the organ and tissue allocation process determined?

No. All efforts to save your life are performed; it is only after death that donation is considered. There are no conflicts between lifesaving measures and donation. Hospitals do not have access to donor registries to check for donor registration status, nor do they make any determination as to whether someone is able to donate. The staff at Life Alaska and LifeCenter Northwest are ultimately responsible for determining donation suitability.

How is the organ and tissue allocation process determined?

There are no allocation criteria for tissue. However, efforts are made to offer tissues from Alaskan donors to Alaskan recipients first. The allocation process for organ transplantion is different: patients in need of an organ transplant are added to the national transplant waiting list. United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) is the organization that manages this list. Life Alaska partners with LifeCenter Northwest to match Alaskan organ donors with recipients in need. The allocation process takes into consideration factors such as medical urgency, tissue type, blood type, body size and length of time on the waiting list. Location of possible recipients is also considered in placement. Organs are offered to patients waiting in Alaska, Washington, Montana and Idaho first. If a suitable match is not found regionally, the organs are then offered nationally. There is no discrimination due to age, gender, race, occupation or social and/or financial status when determining who receives a lifesaving organ for transplant.