Organ Donation

You can give life and hope to others by registering as an organ, eye, and tissue donor. If you are registered through your state's department of motor vehicles (or motor vehicle administration), you do not need to re-register online. The online registries and the DMV/MVA records are kept in the same database.

Individuals can never be too old or too sick to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor. Medical professionals will make a decision about which organs/tissues you may be able to donate at the time of your death. In addition, should you become an organ donor, only the organ and tissue donor agencies will have access to your information, and will only access that information at the time of death.

What Organs Can You Donate?

Potential organ donors are those who die from a severe insult or injury to the brain resulting in the irreversible cessation of all brain functions, including the brain stem, or those who are non-heart beating patients with unrecoverable brain damage. After death is declared, all brain-dead organ donors are maintained on a ventilator to provide artificial means of respiration. Organs include heart, liver, pancreas, lungs, kidneys, and intestines.

What Tissues Can You Donate?

Potential tissue donors are those who have died who meet certain age/medical criteria determined at the time of death. Tissues include bone, cartilage, corneas, fascia, heart valves, pericardium, skin, tendons, and veins. 

Become a Living Donor

A living donor transplant can eliminate a long wait for a donor organ, and it provides the best quality organ possible. Becoming a living donor through MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute requires several steps: evaluation, surgery, and recovery. Living donor transplantation can allow a recipient suffering from kidney failure to get a kidney transplant before starting dialysis, which usually results in improved outcomes for the recipient.

Living donor options include:

Becoming a living donor through MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute requires several steps: evaluation, surgery, and recovery.

Organ Evaluation

In order to direct your organ to a specific recipient, such as a relative or friend, our transplant team will evaluate you in several ways, including:

  1. Taking a complete medical history
  2. Performing a psychiatric evaluation, to ensure that you fully understand the donation process
  3. Completing laboratory and image testing to make sure you are in good health

Someone who is planning to donate all or part of an organ must be healthy and psychologically ready to handle the surgery and its recovery. Testing includes:

  • A discussion with a psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker
  • Blood and urine testing
  • A chest X-ray and EKG to check heart function
  • An MRI of the organ
  • An arteriogram of the organ
  • Consultations with the transplant physician

Once those are completed, the surgery will be scheduled at a mutually convenient date for both the donor and the recipient.

Transplant Surgery

Both the donor and recipient are given pre-surgery instructions. Each organ transplant surgery, one for the donor and one for the recipient, usually lasts approximately 2 to 9 hours depending on the individual and the organ being transplanted. Liver and small bowel transplant surgeries typically take longer than the other transplants we offer due to the intricate blood supply to the liver and small bowel.


Donating an organ is considered major surgery. You can expect to stay in the Intensive Care Unit for about a day before transferring to the General Surgery Unit for 5 to 10 days, depending on the type of transplant surgery undertaken.

You should expect to refrain from work and regular household activities for up to six weeks as you recover. You must remain in the local area for four to six weeks post-discharge for monitoring.

Donors are not responsible for any medical costs associated with the transplant or evaluations.

Register Today

To register as an organ donor through the Washington Regional Transplant Community, visit

Become a Living Donor

Give the gift of life. Are you considering becoming a living donor for a loved one?

Call 202-444-3714