Everything You Need to Know About Organ Donation & Funerals

If you’re considering becoming an organ donor, you’ll want to understand how organ donation will affect your funeral plans.

What difference does this choice make? Can you be an organ donor and still have a funeral? Or a cremation, for that matter? How long does it take? Does it delay the funeral?

Today we’ll address these questions and more. Read on to learn everything you need to know about organ donation and funeral planning.

Organ, Tissue, & Whole Body Donation

First, let’s define and clarify what we’re talking about. There are several ways to donate your body.

Organ Donation

Organ donors volunteer their useful organs, including heart, kidneys, lungs, liver, and more, for transplants in lifesaving medical conditions.

If the organs are viable, they will be removed immediately after death and used to replace a living recipient’s defective organ(s).

Tissue Donation

This is a method by which a deceased person donates parts of their body tissue. The gift of tissue includes skin, heart valves, ligaments, bones, veins, corneas, and more – for use in transplant procedures.

Full-Body Donation

Most people are eligible to donate their bodies. This is often referred to as “donating your body to science.” Numerous organizations accept full-body donations.

A complete body donation is a form of a non-transplant anatomical gift. You can make a whole-body donation to a medical or scientific program and your body will be used for research purposes.

Other Types of Body Donation

  • Eye donation. After death, your corneas can help someone regain sight.
  • Living donation. Most commonly a kidney, while still living you can also donate a liver lobe, whole or partial lung, or part of the pancreas or intestine.
  • Bone marrow and stem cells. Donation while still living through a simple procedure.
  • Blood and plasma donation. You can do this frequently, and you will be compensated for it.

Organ Donation & Funerals

Now let’s talk about how being an organ (or tissue) donor might affect your funeral arrangements.

Can you still have a funeral if you donate your organs?

Yes, absolutely! Organ and tissue donation rarely affect your funeral plans in any way.

How long does organ donation take?

The average length of time is four to six hours. But the length of time can vary depending on what organs are recovered.

Medical professionals must remove the organs very quickly to maintain viability.

How long do organs last after death?

The procedures will differ with the type of tissue being donated. Harvesting organs and tissues need to be done within the first 24 hours of death.

Related: What Happens to a Body After Death?

Will organ donation delay the funeral?

No, organ donation will allow the funeral to go on as planned. Most funerals take place about a week after death, so the hours-long removal process does not cause any impactful delay.

Can organ donors have an open casket?

Yes! The funeral home will embalm, dress, and and place the body in the casket. No one will see any evidence of donation. You can plan an open casket service, and no outward signs of the donation will show.

Related: Open vs. Closed Casket Funerals (& How to Plan Either)

Can I still be cremated if I’m an organ donor?

Of course, you can be cremated after organ donation. The organ donation process does not affect cremation at all.

Do organ donors get free cremation?

You will not receive free cremation for donating. Medical professionals complete the procedure, then call the funeral director to come pick up the body.

From there, the funeral home will assist you in carrying out your normal funeral plans. Free cremation is only included in full-body donation.

Are there extra funeral costs for being an organ donor?

More work goes into preparing a donor’s body, but most funeral homes do not charge extra.

Read more about funeral expenses here.

Organ Donation Pros & Cons

There are plenty of factors to consider as you’re deciding whether to be an organ or tissue donor – or not. Here are some pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages, for either option.

We’ll start with some reasons why you might not want to be a donor and end with some excellent reasons why you might want to sign the card.

5 reasons why you shouldn’t be an organ donor

There may be reasons why you shouldn’t become an organ donor. Here are a few.

Religion. If your religion forbids organ donation, then that is a reason not to be an organ donor. These religions may discourage it:  Native Americans, Shintoists, Confucians, Roma Gypsies, and some Orthodox rabbis.

Personal Views. You may feel that a donor doesn’t “save” a life, it just puts off the inevitable.

Medical Conditions. If you have certain diseases – heart or kidney disease, HIV, actively spreading cancer, and diabetes – then you cannot donate your organs.

Distrust. Do you distrust the medical profession? This is the most common reason people don’t sign up for organ donation. They don’t trust that doctors or hospitals will look out for their best interests.

No Choice of Recipient. You will not be able to designate who will receive any of your organs or tissue. If you had in mind to give someone your liver, you will not be able to do that. Your organs will go to the next persona on the donor’s list that is a match.

By all means, if you feel uncomfortable with the thought of donating, or you don’t believe it’s the right choice for you, then don’t do it. Make sure your family understands your feelings.

5 reasons why you should be an organ donor

There are many very good reasons to consider organ donation.

Saving Lives. You will save numerous lives with donating organs. These organs can go to eight different people (heart, intestines, pancreas, liver, two lungs, two kidneys). If you choose to donate tissue, eyes, and other parts, your donation can go to even more people.

Scientific Advancement. You can help make strides in medical science. Your body could help provide study and research on diseases, medical procedures, and more.

Meaning. Your death can bring meaning to someone else’s life.

Move the List. The organ donation list is extremely long with 107,000 people waiting. By donating, you are moving the list along for more people to receive help.

Helping Young People. There are no age limitations to donate. Newborn babies to the older generations need transplants. If the decedent is otherwise healthy, many organs will still be viable for donation.

Related: At What Age Should You Plan Your Funeral?

How to Donate Your Organs

Every day, twenty people die due to a lack of organ donations. Tissue donation has wide-reaching benefits. Those who need skin, bones, ligaments, tendons, heart valves, and more will be so grateful for your choice.

When asked if you want to donate your organs, please think before you say, “No.”

Sign up here to become an organ donor. It is essential to discuss your feelings about organ donation with your family. Let them know your wishes along with what you’ve learned.

Pin It

Organ Donation Facts

3 thoughts on “Everything You Need to Know About Organ Donation & Funerals”

  1. I did not delay my daughter’s body from being donated, however I never would have donated her organs if I new that the hospital (organ donating association) was taking more organs than my daughter or I would have approved. The representative from the organ donation company question me on what “I” wanted to donate, by using medical words for parts of her body!also speaking too fast for me to grasp. Crying while I was grieving she kept saying new parts of her body medically. Finally I said, “That’s enough! They ended up with her eyes, heart, kidneys the normal stuff also one leg, cervical parts and many more. I will NOT organ donate because I felt they took advantage of us and left her mutalated for burial. It might have been different if they just took the major organs and never explaining what was actually donated. My daughter and I were taken advantage of at a very very hard time.

  2. Question Can an organ donor have natural burial?
    I am not talking about the “new” thing of composting bodies.

Leave a Comment