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Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Donation: Designation

This is the first post in our new series, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Donation, focusing on the donation process from beginning to end. In this series we will break down the process of donation step-by-step from the moment you sign up to what happens after donation is all said and done. We’ll tackle the tough topics surrounding donation, debunk myths, and hopefully provide a clear picture on the process of organ and tissue donation.

Today we start at the very beginning: Designation!

Part 1: Designation

Have you ever wondered what it really means to be an organ and tissue donor? They asked you to sign up at the MVA and maybe you didn’t think twice about it, but then you started wondering, “What does it mean to be a designated donor?”

Designating yourself as an organ and tissue donor is one of the most generous and compassionate acts a person can do. Simply by saying “yes,” you give hope to the hundreds of thousands of people waiting for a life-saving transplant. But it’s also important to know what it means when you sign up.

What It Means To Be A Donor

Designating yourself as an organ and tissue donor is the equivalent of saying, “If, at the time of my death, my organs or tissues can be used to save or enhance the life of another, I want them to be used for that purpose.” This is an incredible gift and we do not take it lightly. The state of Maryland honors first person authorization, which means that if it is your wish to be a donor and you are registered as such, we will ensure your wishes are honored at the time of your death. The only exception is if you are under 18, the decision to donate will still be up to your parents. It is always valuable to share your wishes with your family, but if you are under 18 it is especially important because the decision to donate will ultimately rest with them, and knowing your wishes will make that decision much easier.

So Don’t Wait, Designate!

Designating is easy and many of you (over half the state of Maryland!) have already taken the time to do it. Thank you! If you want to be an organ and tissue donor, the easiest way is to designate yourself. It’s easy, free, and quick.

There are three ways to register as an organ and tissue donor:

You must be 15 years and 9 months of age to register at the MVA, but as long as you are at least 13 years old you can sign up on the Donate Life Maryland website.  In addition to designating via one of these three ways, it is important to discuss your wishes with your family. Starting the conversation can be scary but we promise it will be worth it.

I’ve Designated and Talked to My Family, Now What?

Once you designate yourself at the MVA or online, you are automatically registered to donate all organs and tissues. In Maryland, no matter how you register, an online account is created for you in the Donate Life Maryland registry. You can manage this account by going to, clicking “Check or Change My Status”, and signing in using your driver’s license # and birth date OR the username and password you were assigned if you did not sign up at the MVA.

Once signed in you may pick and choose exactly what organs and tissues you would like to give. You also have the option to take yourself off the registry if you change your mind.

Got heart? Thanks to a new legislation passed in October 2015, you now also have the choice of whether or not to have the organ donor heart on your license when you sign up at the MVA.

So remember: Designating yourself as a donor and maintaining that decision is quick, easy, and free, and that decision will mean LIFE for another. It all starts with YOU.

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