The Donation Process

Organ Donation

Each organ donor has the potential to save up to eight lives through their selfless gifts. The heart, lungs, pancreas, kidneys, liver and intestines offer hope to those on the organ transplant waiting list. Donated organs restore health and extend life for those whose own organs are failing.

When an individual passes away in a Virginia hospital, the hospital contacts its designated organ procurement organization (OPO) to determine whether the patient was a registered organ, eye and tissue donor through the Virginia Donor Registry (by signing up online or at the DMV).

If the patient has made the choice during his or her lifetime to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor, the OPO counsels and supports the donor’s family as the donor’s decision to save lives is honored. If the patient has not made a decision, the patient’s family is invited to make the choice about donation on their loved one’s behalf.

After the patient or his or her family makes the decision to give the gift of life, the OPO’s clinical staff consults with the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and transplant hospitals to find matches on the national waiting list. When matches are found, organs are allocated based on need and proximity so that those who are in the most need nearby are able to receive a lifesaving transplant from the generous donor.

Tissue Donation

Eye and tissue donation is an incredible gift that heals many people in the United States each year. From heart valves that repair congenital heart defects to ligaments that restore mobility and corneas that give the gift of sight, tissue and eye donation offers hope and healing for many.

Tissue and eye recovery teams perform the recovery and send the donated tissue to one of our partners who prepare the tissue for the lifesaving or life-healing transplantation.