Organ Donation

Donation: The Need

Every 10 minutes there is a new name added to the national organ waiting list.

Many people who need a transplant cannot get it because the number of people who need an organ is far greater than the number of deceased donors each year.  Each day in the United States, 22 people die waiting for a transplant because of the shortage of organ donors.

There are over 123,000 men, women and children of all ages waiting for a transplant.

That number is:

  • More than the combined number of seats when both Miller Park and The Milwaukee Mile are sold-out
  • 50,000 more people than an average single day’s attendance at Summerfest
  • One and a half times (1 ½ x) the sell-out capacity at either Lambeau Field or Camp Randall stadium
  • More than half of the people waiting for a transplant are non-Caucasian. Why?  Because many of the diseases like cystic fibrosis, high blood pressure or diabetes affect the kidney, pancreas, heart, liver or lungs more frequently among these individuals.

Donation: Facts at a Glance

  • People of all races and ages, regardless of pre-existing medical conditions, can become potential donors.
  • Organs and tissues that can be donated include: heart, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, liver, intestines, corneas, skin, tendons, bone, and heart valves.
  • All major religions support organ and tissue donation.
  • One donor can save or enhance the lives of more than 50 people.
  • When a person is sick or injured and admitted to the  hospital, the number one priority is to save the person’s life.
  • Donation does not cause any disfigurement to the donor’s body. Through the entire donation process, the body is treated with care, respect and dignity. Families are able to have an open-casket at the funeral of their loved one if that is their wish.
  • There is no cost to the donor’s family or the estate of the donor for organ or tissue donation.
  • The individual who is the best possible match for an organ, has the most urgent medical need, or has been waiting the longest is the person who will be offered the transplant first. Financial or celebrity status has no bearing on what order an organ is received.
  • Donor organs are matched to potential recipients by a national computer registry called the National Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). This computer registry is operated by an organization known as the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which is located in Richmond, Virginia (

Becoming an Organ, Tissue and Eye Donor

In Wisconsin, 2,500-plus men, women and children are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant.

The Wisconsin Donor Registry allows anyone who wishes to be an organ donor to go online and register at A person no longer has to wait until they renew their driver’s license to register.

It is a quick, easy process requiring only a person’s full name, driver’s license number, and date of birth. Anyone over the age of 15-1/2 who has a Wisconsin driver’s license, permit or identification card can register.

To become a registered donor:

  • Go to: the Wisconsin Donor Registry at To see how many adults in Wisconsin have registered to be a donor, view Donor Designation: Percent of Wisconsin Donors by County.
  • Residents of other states should visit the Donate Life America website at
  • Talk to your family about donation and your wishes.

Lives are saved each year by transplantation which is not possible without those individuals who give the gift of life. The National Kidney Foundation of Wisconsin hosts two annual events, Spotlight on Life and the Capital City 5K Run/Walk for Organ, Tissue and Eye Donation to honor donors and donor families and to celebrate the lives that are enhanced through transplantation.


Last updated: January 13, 2017