Hand passing heart into another hand

Give the Gift of Life: Become a Donor

Serving others and practicing selflessness are two actions active duty Service members, their families, and Veterans know well. Service to our country and the sacrifices made demonstrate the desire to help others. With these same attributes in mind, organ donation provides all of us with another way to help others in need.

Every year in April, we celebrate National Donate Life Month (NDLM) to raise awareness about organ, eye and tissue donation and to encourage every American to register as a donor. Just one donor can provide lifesaving organs to up to eight people and impact the lives of many others with tissue donation. This year’s theme—Bee a Donor!—is inspired by the vital role bees play in sustaining life and working together for the sake of their community.

Every year in April, we celebrate National Donate Life Month (NDLM) to raise awareness about organ, eye and tissue donation and to encourage every American to register as a donor.

The observance of NDLM gives us a chance to celebrate those who have received transplants, recognize those who continue to wait, and honor the donors and their families for their selfless contributions to others. In addition, it provides us with the opportunity to give thanks to the professionals who perform these important, life-saving procedures. The Veterans Health Administration’s National Transplant Program has offered organ transplant services since 1962 and bone marrow transplant services since 1982. Veterans across the country are an important part of this extraordinary community of donors and recipients. Learn more about the program, its locations and specialized services through their website or your nearest Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility.

How Donation Works

Signing up to be an organ donor means you may someday help others in need through the gift of a heart, lungs, pancreas, kidney, liver, cornea or other transplantation. Donors are often people who die unexpectedly through stroke or an accident and donor registration relieves their families of the burden of deciding what to do in a time of grief.

Filling out donation formA national system matches available organs from donors with people on the waiting list based on factors such as blood type, body size, time on the waitlist and much more. People of all ages and medical histories can be considered as potential donors. You can learn more about the process and what happens after you register, including important information such as how organs are transplanted, what kind of patient care a donor receives, how donors are matched to recipients and much more. You can also read stories of some of the many lives impacted and transformed by the gift of donation.

Why It Matters

More than 100,000 people across the country are currently waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. Thousands more are waiting for lifesaving and healing cornea and tissue transplants. Because there is a critical shortage of organ donors, men, women and children die every day while waiting for a transplant. By becoming a donor, you can save up to eight lives and heal more than 75 people.

What You Can Do to Help

The first step we can all take is to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor. You can sign up online through your state registry or in person at your local motor vehicle department. If you are already registered, you can help in other ways.

  • Educate others. Learn more about how the process works, get answers to questions people may have and share statistics about the importance of donation.
  • Spread the word about the importance of registration and donation by talking to your family and friends, downloading images and messages to use on your social media pages or volunteering locally in your community.
  • Honor donors, recipients and their families with events in your community or join National Awareness Donation Events throughout the year.

Making a difference in the lives of others is something Service members, Veterans and their families know a lot about. Organ donation is another way we can continue to make a difference and help others in need.

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