How Much Do You Really Know about Organ Donation? Top 12 Facts about Becoming an Organ Donor

Apr 4, 2016

New York


Every year, thousands of Americans die waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant because there just aren’t enough organ donors.

Only 27 percent of New Yorkers are registered organ donors, compared with 50 percent nationally. New York ranks 50th out of 50 states with regard to the percentage of residents registered as organ donors. New York ranks third in the country in people waiting for organ donations. There are many myths and misconceptions about organ donation that prevent people from becoming donors.

Top 12 facts about becoming an organ donor:

  • There are four ways to become an organ donor in New York: you can check off the donor box on your driver’s license application or renewal form, register online at, sign up when you register to vote or when you apply for a NYC Municipal ID.
  • Very few medical conditions disqualify you from donating organs and tissues. While certain organs may not be suitable for transplant, other organs and tissues are fine.
  • It is possible to donate to someone who is not a relative and to someone from another racial or ethnic group.
  • There are no costs directly related to donation.
  • Joining a donor registry is an important step to take, but it is equally important to make your family, friends and doctors aware of your wishes.
  • Most major religions publicly endorse organ donation as the highest gesture of humanitarianism, including Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Buddhism and most branches of Judaism such as Conservative, Reform and Orthodox.
  • Age isn’t a factor in all donations. Organs have been transplanted from donors in their 70s and 80s, and even 90-year-olds have donated their livers in the United States.
  • The medical professionals caring for a patient do everything possible to save the patient's life and have nothing to do with transplant and organ donation. Once a patient becomes a potential organ donor, a separate team will discuss this option with the patient’s family.
  • Although you must be 18 years of age to sign up on the New York State Donate Life Registry, parents or guardians can authorize organ donation for their children.
  • The organ transplant waiting list is blind to wealth and celebrity status. People receive organs based on the severity of the illness, time spent on the waiting list and blood type.
  • Organ donation will not delay funeral arrangements or change any funeral plans. Open-casket viewing is possible after any type of donation.
  • There aren’t enough organs donated by deceased donors to meet all of the needs of patients awaiting organ transplants, so living donors play an important role. It is now possible for a living person to donate a kidney, a portion of his or her liver, a portion of a lung and in some rare instances, a portion of the pancreas.

Organ Transplantation at NewYork-Presbyterian

The organ transplantation program at NewYork-Presbyterian— which includes NewYork-Presbyterian /Weill Cornell, NewYork-Presbyterian /Columbia and The Rogosin Institute — is the most active program of its kind in the nation, offering comprehensive and personalized care for the heart, liver, pancreas, kidney and lung. With outcomes ranked among the nation’s best, the Hospital is dedicated to improving quality of life for its patients. NewYork-Presbyterian’s dedicated teams of surgeons and physicians are responsible for many significant advances made over the past several decades in transplant surgery and the maintenance of healthy organs. The Hospital has been on the forefront of developing and improving anti-rejection medications (immunosuppressants), minimally invasive surgery for living donors, genetic methods to detect transplant rejection, strategies to increase opportunities for donor matching, islet cell transplantation and the FDA-approved left ventricle assist device (LVAD), which functions as a bridge to transplantation for those who are waiting for a new heart.


NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the nation’s most comprehensive healthcare delivery networks, focused on providing innovative and compassionate care to patients in the New York metropolitan area and throughout the globe. In collaboration with two renowned medical school partners, Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, NewYork-Presbyterian is consistently recognized as a leader in medical education, groundbreaking research and clinical innovation.

NewYork-Presbyterian has four major divisions: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is ranked #1 in the New York metropolitan area by U.S. News and World Report and repeatedly named to the magazine’s Honor Roll of best hospitals in the nation; NewYork-Presbyterian Regional Hospital Network is comprised of leading hospitals in and around New York and delivers high-quality care to patients throughout the region; NewYork-Presbyterian Physician Services connects medical experts with patients in their communities; and NewYork-Presbyterian Community and Population Health features the hospital’s ambulatory care network sites and operations, community care initiatives and healthcare quality programs, including NewYork Quality Care, established by NewYork-Presbyterian, Weill Cornell and Columbia.

NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the largest healthcare providers in the U.S. Each year, nearly 29,000 NewYork-Presbyterian professionals deliver exceptional care to more than 2 million patients.

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LiveOnNY, formerly the New York Organ Donor Network, is a nonprofit, federally designated organ procurement organization (OPO) dedicated to saving lives, providing comfort, and strengthening legacies through organ, eye, and tissue donation. The OPO, which was established in 1978, and is the second largest OPO in the United States, serves a culturally and ethnically diverse population of 13 million residents in New York City, Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley. Working closely with transplant centers and hospitals, LiveOnNY coordinates organ, eye, and tissue donation for transplant, educates the public and health care professionals about donation and transplantation, and promotes the importance of signing up on the New York State Donate Life Registry.  LiveOnNY works closely with nine transplant centers, 98 hospitals, and several tissue and eye banks.  LiveOnNY is accredited by the Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) and a member of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which oversees the organ transplant waiting list in the U.S. For more information, please visit

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