Did you know, more than 2,000 people in Wisconsin need lifesaving organs? Across the nation, more than 115,000 people are in the same situation, waiting patiently for organs that will save their lives. A single donor can save eight lives and change the lives of more than 75 people. Donation can include kidneys, liver, heart, lungs, pancreas, intestines, tissue and corneas.
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.
Amazing Transplant Stories
Organ donation and innovations have changed the lives of our transplant patients. Learn more about their transplant stories.
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.