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Organ Donation

An average of 13 people die every day awaiting organ transplants because there is a tragic shortage of donated organs and tissues. We've put together the follwing information to help you make your decision about organ and tissue donation:

  • Even if you choose to donate organs and tissues after your death, every effort wiil be made to save your life. Organs and tissue donation can be pursued only after these efforts have failed and you are declared dead.
  • These is no disfigurement associated with organ and tissues recovery. You may have an open casket funeral if you wish.
  • There is no charge to the donating family for recovering organs and tissues.
  • Organs are distributed to those awaiting transplant on the basis of matching, medical urgency, time waiting, and in some cases, geographic proximity.
  • Age need not be a consideration in making a donation.
  • It is against the law in the United States to buy or sell organs.

To become an organ donor in Vermont, register online at Donate Life Vermont or enroll at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). By registering you give legal consent for organ and tissue donation. If you are under the age of 18 when you register, consent for organ donation is the decision of the parent(s)/legal guardian. If you signed up to be a donor while at the Vermont DMV in January 2013 or later, you are automatically enrolled on the Donate Life Vermont Registry. Prior to January 2013, the Donate Life Vermont registry was not linked to the DMV. If you have not been issued a license or identification card since January 2013, you'll need to enroll at the DMV or register online.

Anyone can be a registered organ and tissue donor regardless of age, race, or medical history. The condition of the organs and tissues are more important than the age, race, or medical history of the individual. Your age doesn’t make you ineligible to sign up, nor do you have to be in perfect health. Your ability to donate is determined at the time of death by the transport team. Having a medical condition does not automatically make you exempt from being able to donate. While the severity of the condition does have weight on the overall decision of whether you can donate, you can still register. Keep in mind that organs are not the only things you can donate; tissues such as skin, tendons and bone can be donated as well. Careful testing is done at the time of death to ensure safety for donor recipients.

For answers to other frequently asked questions about organ and tissue donation, visit:

Only after every effort has been attempted to save a person’s life will the testing begin to see if the deceased is a candidate for organ donation. To do this, the organ procurement organization will check the state organ and tissue donor registry to see if the candidate has given permission for donation. If the person is not on the registry, next-of-kin is contacted to give authorization for organ transplant. This is why it is important for people who wish to become organ donors to be registered on the state registry and to discuss their decision with their family and friends.