How Donation Works

The 5 Steps of Organ Donation & How Tissue Differs


Trauma & Death

Whether in a hospital or at the scene of an accident, emergency medical personnel immediately begin life-saving procedures. Every effort is made to save the patient at the hospital.

Learn More about Brain Death



Once a patient is determined brain dead by two different doctors who are unrelated to the transplant process, the hospital must refer the patient to the local organ procurement organization (OPO).



The OPO, not the physician, evaluates to determine if organ donation is an option.



If the patient is eligible for organ donation, the OPO will speak to the family. The family will then be notified if their loved one registered as an organ donor.


Organ Recovery

Once consent is granted, either by the Donate Life California Registry or the family, the organs are recovered and used to help save the lives of those on the organ transplant waiting list.


Funeral Arrangements

Families can proceed with regular funeral arrangements. The decision to donate does not affect the option of an open casket, nor does it delay funeral services.

How is Tissue Donation Different from Organ Donation?

While less than one percent of hospital deaths meet the criteria for organ donation (usually the patient must be brain dead), tissue donation is open to nearly everyone. Hospitals are required to report all deaths to tissue and eye banks. If the tissue donor meets donor eligibility, the registry is checked. Once authorization is verified, or consent is given by the potential donor’s family, a medical team is dispatched by the eye and/or tissue bank for recovery. Each tissue donor can enhance up to 75 lives.

Sign Up and Save Lives - Become and Organ, Eye & Tissue Donor

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