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Donate Life

What You Need to Know About Organ and Tissue Donations

Mother and daughter in a field during spring.
  • Every 10 minutes, another name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list. 21 people die each day from lack of a transplant.
  • More than 1 million tissue transplants are done each year.
  • 90 percent of Americans support donation, but only 30 percent know how to become a donor.
  • While transplants can and do cross racial and ethnic lines, donors are more likely to match someone from their own racial or ethnic background due to genetic similarities.
  • One deceased organ donor can save eight lives and improve many more with cornea and tissue transplants.

Patient Resources

Transplant Stories of Hope and Health

Kidney Transplant | Mary's Story

Mary Tompkins suffered from polycystic kidney disease and received a kidney transplant from Johns Hopkins because of an altruistic donor and a paired donation. Meet Mary and her generous donor.

Heart Transplant | Orlando's Story

Orlando DeFelice suffered from idiopathic cardiomyopathy and became the second heart transplant ever at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in 1983. Over 30 years later, Orlando is the longest heart transplant survivor in Johns Hopkins history.

Kidney Donation| Pamela's Gift

As part of a 16-patient kidney exchange, Johns Hopkins Medicine senior executive Pamela Paulk's kidney donation ensured a Hopkins employee would receive a life-saving transplant.

Common Myths About Organ Donation

Husband and wife outside

Myth: I'm too old to be a donor.

Truth: No patient is ever too old or too young to give the gift of life. The decision to use a patient’s organs and tissue is based on strict medical criteria, not age.

Myth: I have health issues. Nobody would want my organs.

Truth: When a donor passes away, their medical history will be reviewed to see if they are a suitable donor. Even people with diabetes, heart disease, cancer and hepatitis C have been organ and tissue donors.

Myth: Donor families are charged for donating their loved one's organs and tissue.

Truth: There is no cost to the donor or their family for organ or tissue donation.

Myth: Organ and tissue donation is against major religions. 

Truth: All major religions support organ and tissue donation as the ultimate act of charity. If someone has questions about their faith's views on donation, they can consult with their minister, pastor, rabbi or other religious leader.

Myth: Rich and powerful people seem to move to the front of the line when they need a transplant.

Truth: It may seem like they do because their stories are frequently in the news, but the matching of organs and recipients is coordinated through the United Network of Organ Sharing and is based strictly on medical criteria to ensure the organ will go to the person who needs it the most. Celebrity status or wealth is never a factor.

Latest Transplant News and Discoveries

Facebook organ donation help

Social Media Boosts Organ Donor Registration

Discover how Dr. Andrew Cameron, together with fellow Harvard University graduate and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, were able to increase the number of people signing up for organ donation through social media.

Tiny Nanoparticles Could Help Patients in Need of Cornea Transplant

Johns Hopkins-led animal study shows that a nanoparticle applied at the time of surgery slowly releases needed medicine to reduce risk of rejection after eye surgery.

Law Offers Hope to HIV-Infected Patients Awaiting Organ Transplants

A bill signed into law by President Obama paves the way to reverse the longtime ban on letting HIV-infected people donate their organs for transplantation after death, a move that offers hope to thousands of HIV patients on transplant waiting lists.

Kidney Failure Risk for Organ Donors Extremely Low

The risk of a kidney donor developing kidney failure in the remaining organ is much lower than in the population at large, even when compared with people with two kidneys.

How to Become a Hero

Give the gift of hope to the thousands of people waiting for a donated organ.  

Sign Up to Become an Organ Donor


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