Donate Life: Organ Donation Saves Lives

Did you know, more than 2,450 people in Wisconsin need new organs, such as kidneys, pancreas, livers, hearts and lungs to survive? Across the nation, more than 121,000 people are in the same situation, waiting patiently for organs that will save their lives.

As part of a nationally-recognized adult and pediatric Transplant Center, we are committed to helping save the lives of people who need transplants to survive.

You can make a Difference. Register with the Wisconsin Donor Registry to authorize the gift of your organs.

Register to Donate

Importance of Organ Donation

There aren’t enough donated organs. In fact, 18 people die every day while waiting for a transplant - and every 11 minutes, another person is added to the waiting list.

Your contribution is powerful. A single donor can save or improve the lives of more than 50 people.

Amazing Transplant Stories

Read how organ donation and innovations have changed the lives of our transplant patients.

Learn More: Common Questions About Organ and Tissue Donation

What does it mean to register?

Having your name included in the Wisconsin donor registry means that you have authorized the gift of your organs, tissues and eyes upon your death. Registering indicates legal consent for donation. Your gift will be used to save and improve the lives of others.

Does my religion support donation?

Every major religion in the United States supports organ, tissue and eye donation as one of the highest expressions of compassion and generosity.

Is there a cost to be an organ, eye and tissue donor?

There is no cost to the donor’s family or estate for donation. The donor family pays only for medical expenses before death and costs associated with funeral expenses.

Does my social and/or financial status play any part in whether or not I will receive a transplant if I ever need one?

No. When you are on the transplant waiting list for an organ donor, what really counts is the severity of your illness, body size, tissue type, blood type and other important medical information.

Will the doctors do everything they can to try and save me if they know my wishes to be a donor?

Donation is only considered after all efforts to save a patient’s life have been exhausted by the medical team. Organ recovery only occurs after death has been declared. The Organ Procurement Organization is a separate team of people from the medical team that is treating the patient. This ensures that there is no conflict of interest.

How long can organs and tissues survive before being transplanted?

Thanks to advances in medical technology and improved preservation techniques, organs, tissues and corneas may be transported to reach recipients waiting in transplant centers. Approximate preservation times are:

  • Heart/lung: 4 to 6 hours
  • Pancreas: 12 to 24 hours
  • Liver: 6 to 8 hours
  • Kidneys: 24 to 72 hours
  • Corneas: Must be transplanted within 5 to 7 days
  • Heart valves, skin, bone, tendons, veins: May be preserved from 3 to 5 years

Is organ, eye and tissue donation difficult on the donating family?

Donation may provide immediate and long-term consolation, especially in light of sudden, unexpected circumstances. The family members of the donor often feel encouraged that something good has come out of something tragic.

Does the donor’s family get to meet the recipient?

A donor’s family will be told the age, sex, state and other general characteristics of recipients. If both the donor family and the recipient agree to sign a release of information form, available through the Organ Procurement Organization, Tissue Bank or Lion’s Eye Bank, they may then exchange names, correspond and eventually meet if they so choose.

Why is it important for me to talk about donation with my family?

Many people don’t like to discuss end-of-life situations; however, talking about donation is different than talking about death. When you share your donation decision with your family, you are talking about the opportunity to help others and to ensure that your family understands your wishes.