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It's a simple promise, but we fulfill it every day through our mission, actions and care. Looking for answers? Overwhelmed? Feeling lost? You are not alone.
Whether you are considering organ donation on behalf of a loved one, seeking support during your family's donation journey, waiting for or have received a transplant, LiveOnNY is here to provide you with guidance and support. Together we support one another, honor legacies, and raise awareness about the need for organ donation.
I want to understand if my loved one should become a donor
Through donation, everyone has the chance to leave a legacy that will live on in others. Consenting to donation allows an individual the opportunity to save up to eight lives through organ donation, and to save or improve the lives of up to 50 people through tissue and eye donation. Families that have donated have often expressed finding comfort in knowing that their loved one helped save or improve the lives of others.
When is a person considered a potential donor?
All people can be considered a potential organ donor after death has been declared in a hospital setting. Nothing should be ruled out. A doctor will make a medical determination at the time of death. There are two ways to pronounce death. It may be pronounced when a person’s heart stops beating or when the brain stops functioning and the individual is declared brain dead by a physician.
In order to be an organ donor, a person must die in a hospital setting where doctors can immediately begin the transplant process. Because the process is different, a person who dies outside of a hospital setting can become a tissue and/or eye donor.
Understanding brain death
The brain cannot survive without oxygen. Brain death occurs when blood and the oxygen it carries cannot flow to the brain. Without blood and oxygen, the brain dies. When the brain dies, the person cannot move, breathe, think or feel. Pain and suffering cease.
Brain death is death and cannot be reversed. The heart can continue to beat for a while as the ventilator (breathing machine) provides oxygen to the body. It may look as if the person is sleeping because the ventilator fills the lungs with oxygen and helps keep the skin pink and warm. They are not sleeping.
Many tests are performed by the doctor to determine if brain death has occurred. Most or all of these tests take place at a person’s bedside. The death of a patient is declared by physicians who are legally not affiliated with donation. If the tests prove that brain death has occurred, the person is dead. The doctor then records the time of death while the person is still on the ventilator and their heart is still beating.
All donors in New York and the U.S. are either brain dead or dead because their heart has stopped. LiveOnNY adheres to New York State guidelines for declaration of death and verifies that donor hospital guidelines have been observed prior to proceeding with organ donation.
Support for your family
As you consider the important choice to donate, we are here for you. We’re ready to offer as many answers as you need to help you feel informed and supported. The concept of organ donation can be overwhelming. Whether you have personal, religious or medical questions, we are with you, every step of the way.
Every family that authorizes organ, tissue or eye donation is automatically enrolled in LiveOnNY's Donor Family Services Follow Up Program, regardless of whether their loved one becomes a donor. Donor families may contact Donor Family Services (646-291-4605) directly with any questions regarding the donor and/or recipients, and also to inquire on therapeutic services available to donor families.
I have a family member who donated and I need support
Thank you for your compassionate and generous decision to help others live on.
All families who consent to organ and/or tissue donation, regardless of the outcome, are automatically enrolled in our Donor Family Services Follow-Up Program. Our team of trained social workers and healthcare professionals assist and support families throughout the years following the loss of their loved one.
Our services include, but are not limited to:
- information on your loved one’s donation
- on-site counseling and support groups
- referrals to outside bereavement and grief counseling services
- a private Facebook community for donor families
- a unique LiveOnNY memory quilt program
- the opportunity to write to your loved one’s recipients
Understanding information about your loved one’s donation
Every family who consents to donation will receive follow up communication from our team, with particular information regarding the details of the donation, as available, as well as helpful resources and links to immediate support and care. Our team is here to help.
Our experience supporting grieving families has made us acutely aware of the needs of families experiencing the loss of a loved one. With that in mind, we offer grief and bereavement resources tailored to the family’s unique needs and challenges. To learn more about the current support groups and counseling services being offered by LiveOnNY, or for referrals to resources in your area, please contact Donor Family Services at 646-291-4605.
Join our private Facebook community
The Donor Family Corner is a private forum for donor families to give and get support from each other. We encourage members to connect with one another, and to use this page to share memories of their loved one, talk about how they are feeling, and ask for support and advice from other donor families who have also experienced a loss. This group is available only to LiveOnNY donor families, through invitation only.
To request an invitation to join this Facebook group, please send an email with your full name, your loved one’s name and their date of death to email@example.com or call 646-291-4405.
When the time is right, LiveOnNY offers additional ways for you to honor your loved one and will further connect you to the donor community and recipients. Here’s how:
- The LiveOnNY memory quilt - add your personalized, dedicated homage to our patchwork tribute. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 646-291-4405 to get started.
- Writing to your loved one’s recipient(s) - our donor family services team is here to help you reach out to recipients, discuss your feelings about taking this step, and help you write your card or letter. To do so, please send an email with your full name, your loved one’s name, and their date of death to email@example.com or call 646-291-4605.
I am a transplant recipient
Being given a second chance at life is a magnificent thing, but it can also come with many mixed emotions. To help navigate this new normal, various tools and resources such as support groups, advocacy outlets, or even writing to your donor family may be helpful.
Support groups provide the opportunity to connect with those who have undergone similar experiences in the space of donation and transplantation. These groups are designed to provide support to transplant candidates, recipients and donor families through advocacy, education, awareness and shared experiences.
With your personal connection to donation, you are in a unique position to contribute to the cause and have an impact by saving lives. LiveOnNY focuses our educational efforts on the five boroughs of New York City, Long Island, and the lower Hudson Valley, all the way to Poughkeepsie. When you volunteer with us, you’ll be rewarded with the satisfaction of knowing that you have contributed to something greater than yourself.
Writing to your donor family
Choosing to write a letter to a donor family is very personal. Know that there is no right or wrong time to write, and there is no time limit as to when to write. We do encourage all recipients to write a letter, as it often provides solace to a grieving family to know their love one’s gift saved another’s life.
Contact your transplant coordinator at your transplant center for more information.
I am or I have a family member waiting for a transplant
Waiting for an organ transplant can be a long and complicated process. LiveOnNY is committed to reducing wait times. We achieve this by educating our community about donation and encouraging those who support organ donation to register. Below is some information for those who are waiting:
Understanding the matching process
For some individuals who are critically ill, the only or best treatment option is organ transplantation. Those waiting are added to a national computerized waiting list by their doctor. The waiting list is independently maintained by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) and is blind to race, gender, financial or celebrity status.
At the point of donation, a computer matching system is used to allocate organs based on organ size, blood type, medical urgency, location and time waiting. A transplant surgeon will make a final decision about whether or not the donor and intended recipient are a good match. If it is not a viable match, the next candidate as deemed through the matching system will be selected for consideration.
With your personal experience as someone waiting for a transplant, you are in a unique position to contribute to the cause and showcase the real need for increased support for organ donation to help save more lives. LiveOnNY focuses are educational efforts in the five boroughs of New York City, Long Island and counties north of New York City, all the way to Poughkeepsie. Volunteering can be in the form of sharing your story, running registration drives or working closely with community partners. Contact Scott Wohl, Senior Manager, Community & Government Affairs at 646-291-4626 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Have more questions?
Contact your Transplant Coordinator at your local transplant center.
I want to know if my loved one should be a tissue donor
A family guide to tissue donation
Every day, thousands of Americans are waiting for tissue transplants. Many are for surgeries that people we know, or are close to, may have even undergone. Giving the gift of life and healing is an opportunity to further enhance your loved one’s legacy. Very often, donor families share that they have found great comfort in the donation of their loved one’s organs and/or tissues. At LiveOnNY, we respect your decision to consider tissue donation, so the following information is provided for your guidance.
Examples of tissue uses
- Corneas: may restore sight and can be used in reconstructive surgeries
- Heart Valves: replace failing valves in the heart, a majority of heart valves are used in children and women in childbearing age
- Tendon and Ligaments: return mobility and stabilize joints such as knee reconstruction
- Bone: has many uses including spinal fusion, hip and knee repair, facial/jaw reconstruction following trauma or tumor removal
- Veins & Arteries: used to increase circulation in heart bypass and limb salvage surgery
- Skin: used to heal burn patients
Facts about tissue donation
- The body is always treated with dignity and respect.
- While tissue donation can impact the body's appearance, generally, open casket services can be arranged. We will work closely with the funeral home chosen by the family to ensure that they may have the service of their choice.
- Most major religions support organ and tissue donation.
- Costs directly related to the recovery of tissues will not be charged to the family.
Who can donate
A series of questions will be asked about every donor to evaluate medical suitability. We know the questions may be very personal, but they are necessary. The medical records of the donor will also be requested and reviewed to help determine suitability which is a vital step to ensure the safety and success of the transplants for future recipients.
After the donation
A letter outlining what was donated and general information about tissue use will be mailed within a few weeks of the donation. Since tissue donation may impact the lives of many people, corresponding with or meeting the recipient(s) is not possible.
I want to volunteer
Everyone can play a role in the circle of saving lives
In a world with too little awareness about the importance of organ and tissue donation, our volunteers can help amplify LiveOnNY’s mission and save more lives. Volunteers are rewarded with the satisfaction of knowing that their work has contributed to a lifesaving cause.
Help us educate new york
Want to make a difference and help save lives? We offer numerous ways to give back to the cause and engage with LiveOnNY:
- public speaking and media
- donor registry drives
- DMV ambassador
- voter registration
If you’d like to learn more about becoming a LiveOnNY volunteer, and learn about our mission and impact, we invite you to join us at our monthly volunteer orientation or contact Scott Wohl, Senior Manager, Community & Government Affairs at email@example.com or 646-291-4626.
Want to know more?
Subscribe to our weekly Volunteer Newsletter or contact Scott Wohl, Senior Manager, Community & Government Affairs for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646-291-4626.
I want to support the organ & tissue donation cause
We are making great strides in advancing the cause here in New York, but we still have more work to do. We want every New Yorker to know about the lifesaving power and beauty of organ and tissue donation, and we want every New Yorker to have the information they need to make informed decisions about donation.
To do this, we need your help.
To help make supporting the cause easy and impactful, we’ve created simple actions to help spread the word.