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U.S. Government Information on Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation
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External Web Site Policy Go to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Website Give the Gift of Life
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Organ Donation and Transplantation Saves Lives

Organ donation begins with a person who recognizes an opportunity to help others, enrolls in a state donor registry, and shares the decision to be a donor with family members and friends. The culmination of the process occurs when the person donates—and saves or enhances the lives of as many as eight people who need an organ transplant. In the United States, the Health Resources and Services Administration of the Department of Health and Human Services has oversight of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN).


Giving an Organ: Donation

Organ donation is the surgical process of providing one or more organs to be used for transplantation into another person. Organ donors can be deceased or living.
> Learn the basics about organ, eye and tissue donation
The links below provide an overview of the process of deceased organ donation.
Yeon Won Bae, Ph.D., kidney recipient image.
Enrolling as a Donor
Trying to Save a Life
Testing for Brain Death
Alerting the OPO
Obtaining Consent
Matching Donors with Recipients
Maintaining the Donor
Recovering and Transporting Organs
Transplanting the Organs

Getting an Organ: Transplantation

Transplantation is the process of surgically transferring a donated organ into a patient with end-stage organ failure.

The links below provide information about organ
Mikey Weathersby, liver recipient, and family image.
Getting on the OPTN National Transplant Waiting List
Plan your Finances
Waiting for a Donor Organ
Understand How Matches are Made and Organs are Allocated
After your Transplant
Contact your Donor Family


Organ Procurement Organizations
The 58 organ procurement organizations (OPOs) in the United States are responsible for two main functions within their designated service area: 1) increasing the number of registered donors, and 2) coordinating the donation process when actual donors become available.

Learn more and find an OPO near you

Transplant Centers
Transplant centers are the components within hospitals that operate organ transplant programs.

Find a transplant center near you.

Local Hospitals
Currently nearly all deceased donor organs come from people who have died in the hospital. The local hospital leadership, staff, and physicians play a critical role in making the wishes of the organ donor (and/or the family) a reality.


Allocation—The process of determining how organs are distributed.

Brain Death—Brain death occurs when the brain is totally and irreversibly non-functional. Brain death is caused by not enough blood supply of oxygen which causes the brain cells to die.

Candidate—A patient who has been placed on the National Waiting List for solid organ transplantation.

> Find Out More Terms and Topics


Individuals who are brain dead can be organ donors and their organs can be used for transplantation.

> Find out more


Most religions support organ and tissue donation as a charitable act of love and giving.

> Find out more


There are many reasons why people suffer end-stage organ failure and need an organ transplant and why others are not accepted as organ donors. Some reasons are totally out of their control. However, there are some things we all can do to help reduce our risk of acquiring a chronic disease that could lead to end-stage organ failure or limit our chances to donate.
> Find out more


While most solid organ and tissue donations occur after the donor has died, some organs and tissues can be donated while the donor is alive.

> Find out more

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