Dr. Thomas Chin, a Surgical Director of Liver Transplant, joined Good Day Orlando on Monday morning at 8 a.m. He answered your questions about donating parts of the body.
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Q: How do you know if your organs are able to be donated?
A: Almost everyone is eligible to donate. Please register to donate at donatelifeflorida.org. Organ recovery specialists review each case to decide if someone can donate and what organs can be used.
Q: What organs can/can’t be donated?
A: Liver, kidney, pancreas, heart, lung and intestine can be donated. So up to 8 organs may be donated from a single organ donor. In addition, tissues such as heart valves and blood vessels may be used.
Q: Can just anyone donate organs or are there specific requirements?
A: Pretty much anyone is eligible to donate. There are no specific age or health requirements. At the time of donation, an organ donation specialist will review the case and determine if donation is appropriate and what organs can be used.
Q: Can any part of the body be donated?
A: In terms of organs- liver kidney pancreas heart lung and intestine may be donated. Tissues such as heart valves, skin, blood vessels may be used.
Q: At what age can you voluntarily donate an organ?
A: Living donors must be age 18 or older. There is no age requirement/limit for deceased donors.
Q: If I choose to become an organ donor, how does that work? Do they just take everything if I pass? I’ve always wanted to be helpful but I’m not quite sure what Im getting myself into.
A: An organ donation specialist will determine what organs are appropriate for donation. In theory, heart lungs liver kidney pancreas and intestine may be used. It does require a large incision to remove all of the organs for transplant. All organ donors are treated with the utmost respect during the process.
Q: How do I choose to donate?
A: Living donation is possible for kidney and liver. You can contact our transplant center if interested adventhealthtransplant.com You can sign up to be an organ donor when you get your driver's license or do it online at donatelifeflorida.org.
Q: If I register as a donor, is my health insurance price affected?
A: Your health insurance is not affected by signing up for organ donation. No part of your healthcare or insurance is affected by signing up to be an organ donor.
Q: If I choose to become an organ donor, will it cost my family any money?
A: There is no cost to sign up to be an organ donor.
Q: How do we know how good of shape our organs are in?
A: At the time of donation, an organ recovery specialist will evaluate each organ system with blood work and xrays. Ultimately, at the time of recovery, a transplant surgeon will directly inspect the organ for suitability for transplant. Right now, your organ function can be assessed by your doctor using physical exam, labs and x-rays.
Q: Can I have an open casket if I become an organ donor?
A: Yes. Organ donors can have an open casket. The incision used is on the chest and abdomen.
Q: What kind of transplant programs are there?
A: Due to specialized training, transplant programs are divided into chest (heart and lung) and abdominal (liver kidney pancreas and intestine). Also, there is specialized training for pediatric transplants.
Q: Is it true that rich or famous people get organs faster when needed?
A: Not true. There is a national list based on urgency. Money and/or being famous is not part or the allocation system.
Q: If you need a transplant, how long of a waiting list is it normally?
A: The answer depends on the type organ needed. For a kidney, the wait is typically 5 years. Liver allocation is based on how sick you are. When someone needs a liver urgently, the transplant may happen within a week.
Q: Can I be too old to donate an organ?
A: There is no absolute age cutoff but as we age, our organ function declines. Some organs decline faster than others. Older people typically can donate as many organs as younger people.
Q: Does certain pre-existing conditions prohibit someone from becoming a donor?
A: Active infection and cancer are typically the only absolute contraindications. An organ donation specialist will assess if and what can be donated at the time of donation.
Q: Can an adult organ be donated to a child or teen?
A: Yes. That is the typical scenario. There are often size considerations. For example, in the case of a liver, it may be split so the smaller part goes to the child and the larger part can be transplanted into an adult.