How to be an Organ Donor

Most people are aware that organ donors are vital to save or improve the lives of millions of Americans. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one organ donor can save up to 8 lives! Thousands of people die every day because they don’t get the transplants they need. I encourage my clients to consider making organ donation part of their estate plans – and there are several easy ways to do it.

1. Sign up with your state register.

Check the state list compiled by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at You can also get a donor card to carry in your wallet. In Minnesota, you can register online here.

2. Check the box the next time you renew your driver’s license.

In Minnesota, you can indicate your wishes on your application and your license will display the word “DONOR” on it. Emergency and hospital personnel know to check for the indicator and act accordingly.

3. Document your wishes regarding donation in a Health Care Directive.

One of the best ways to ensure that your donation wishes are known is to put them in writing in your Health Care Directive, if you have one. A Health Care Directive allows you to nominate a Health Care Agent to make decisions for you if you are unable to do so. Putting your wishes in the Directive will help your Agent to know that you want to be an organ donor.

4. Tell your family.

Hospitals often seek consent of the next of kin before removing organs, although it isn’t necessary if the person was a registered with the a state registry. Letting your family know you want to donate can make the question much less stressful.

BONUS ROUND: You can also be a living donor!

Living donors can donate organs such as a kidney or parts of the lung, liver, pancreas, or intestine. Bone marrow transplants are also in high demand, check out opportunities to help at Be The Match.

2nd BONUS ROUND: You can donate your body to science after donating any eligible organs or tissue.

Here in Minnesota, the University of Minnesota Anatomy Bequest Program is a well-regarded organization that accepts whole body donations to support medical research and education. Donors can fill out a form indicating their wishes here.

If you have questions about organ donation, anatomical gifts, or health care directives, contact Lyon Law Office for a complimentary consultation.