The typical organ donor age range is from newborn to 65 years or more. People who are 65 years of age or older may be acceptable donors, but it is dependent upon a medical evaluation.
A kidney can be recovered and transported thousands of miles to a transplant center for transplantation. This is due, in part, to advances in preservation techniques. Under proper conditions, a kidney can last up to 72 hours before being transplanted.
Donor organs are matched to waiting recipients by a national registry, called the National Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). This registry is operated by an organization known as the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), located in Richmond, Virginia. More information on both OPTN and UNOS is below.
Currently there are 58 organ procurement organizations (OPOs) across the country, which provide organ procurement services to over 250 transplant centers.
All hospitals are required by law to have a "Required Referral" system in place. Under this system, the hospital must notify the local Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) of all patient deaths. If the OPO determines that organ and/or tissue donation is appropriate in a particular case, a representative will contact the deceased patient’s family to offer them the option of donating their loved one’s organs and tissues.
Donor organs and tissues are removed surgically, and the donor’s body is closed, as in any surgery. There are no outward signs of organ donation and open casket funerals are still possible.