Think you're an organ donor? Here's how to know for sure

More than 17 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant -- here's how you can help.

Mercey Livingston CNET Contributor
Mercey Livingston is a health and wellness writer and certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She's written about fitness and wellness for Well+Good, Women's Health, Business Insider, and Prevention.com among others. When not writing, she enjoys reading and trying out workout classes all over New York City.
Mercey Livingston
2 min read
Person holding a plastic heart in hand

Registering to be an organ donor is simple and can help save lives.

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Right now there are at least 107,000 people on a waiting list for an organ transplant to save their life. And every day, 17 people die while waiting for an organ transplant, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration. Helping potentially save lives by signing up to be an organ donor is actually a simple process that most people qualify for. Here's what you need to know about signing up, eligibility and more.

What is organ donation and why sign up to be an organ donor?

When you sign up to be an organ donor it means that when you die, you're giving permission to have your organs removed and donated to someone in need. There are certain circumstances that make this possible, so not everyone will be able to donate even if they want to. If you decide to be a donor, you will be evaluated after you die to make sure your organs qualify. So registering as a donor is essentially allowing your body to be considered if something happens to you. 

If you're worried about organ donation changing your medical care or funeral arrangements -- don't worry. Having your organs donated only takes place after your death, and the procedure to do so won't affect how you look at a funeral or visitation, according to the Health Services and Resources Administration.

people standing in a DMV

Most people can sign up to be an organ donor when you get your driver's license at the DMV.

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Who can sign up to be an organ donor?

Everyone over the age of 18 can register as an organ donor. If you're under 18, your parent or legal guardian would decide about organ donation after death. Even if you have underlying medical issues, you can still register to be a donor. Again, much of the actual eligibility for organ donation depends on the circumstances of your death and status of your organs at that time. 

How to sign up to be an organ donor

One of the easiest ways to sign up as an organ donor is when you get your driver's license or get it renewed at your local DMV. Most states can issue some sort of indicator on your license that says you're a donor. Each state also has a registry, so you can register online through OrganDonor.Gov if you don't have a driver's license or are not sure if you registered as a donor when you got your license. 

According to the Mayo Clinic and OrganDonor.gov, when you register for organ donation you should also tell your family, friends or other loved ones in your life that you'd like to be an organ donor. This way, if they are ever asked about your preference, they will be able to tell the hospital or doctors about your wishes. Registering alone is enough to make sure you're set for donation, but telling your loved ones will make the process easier if the time comes and they are asked about it. 

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.