According to the Mass DOT website, 17 people in the United States die every day waiting for organ transplants and there are over 97,000 total patients waiting for an organ transplant in the United States. Thousands more await life-enhancing tissue transplants.

You can register to become an organ donor whenever you apply for or renew your driver's license.

You can also register at any time with the New England Organ Bank.  The New England Organ Bank allows citizens from Massachusetts an easy means to join the state’s donor registry. You can join the registry through the website, when renewing your driver license online, or when obtaining/renewing their license at a local driver license office.   If you already have “organ donor” on your driver license, you still are encouraged to join the new registry to ensure your previous designation is documented.

Many people are nervous about choosing to be an organ donor.  The following facts may ease your mind about the decision.

Fact:  Medical professionals do EVERYTHING they can to save your life. If you are sick or injured and admitted to the hospital, the doctors who work to save your life are not the same doctors involved with organ donation. It is only after every attempt has been made to save your life that donation will be considered.

Fact: There is no special consideration due to age, sex, race, sexual orientation, occupation, social status, or financial status when determining who gives or receives an organ transplant.

Fact:  An open casket funeral is possible for organ, tissue, and eye donors. The donor is treated with respect and dignity throughout the process.

Fact: There is no cost to the donor or their family for organ, tissue, and eye donation.

Fact:  Everyone, regardless of their age or medical condition, is urged to join the New England Organ Bank. At the time of death, medical professionals will determine a person's eligibility to become an organ, tissue, and eye donor.

Fact: The identity of all parties is kept confidential. The donor family and the transplant recipient may receive such information as age, sex, and state of residence. Individually, the recipient may be told the circumstances of death, and the donor's family may be informed of the transplants performed. The donor’s family may also receive feedback on how the recipient’s health status has improved. The donation agencies facilitate correspondence and meetings initiated by either the donor family or recipient.

Fact:  Agreeing to donation for research when registering as a donor does not include whole body/anatomical donation.

Frequently Asked Questions in Massachusetts

What does the heart symbol on my license/ID card represent?

The heart symbol indicates that you are in the Massachusetts Donor Registry and have consented to organ and tissue donation.

What is the "Massachusetts Donor Registry"?

The Donor Registry is a database that contains the names of everyone who has signed up to be an organ and tissue donor at the RMV. The database is checked (via computer) when necessary. This eliminates the need to look for a donor card or a license which could be misplaced or lost.

What organs and tissues can be donated?

Heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas, liver, small bowel, bone and associated tendons, blood vessels, heart valves, skin, and corneas. Organs are allocated through the United Network for Organ Sharing. Tissues recovered by New England Organ Bank (NEOB) are first processed for safety and preservation purposes before they are transplanted.