Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about organ and tissue donation.

How do I register as a donor in NC?

In North Carolina, you can register as a donor in two easy ways:

   1) Request that a heart be placed on your driver's license at the DMV.

If you register via the DMV, a red heart will be placed on your driver's license or ID card. This symbol means that you are giving legal authorization for the donation of your organs and corneas/eyes after you die. It does not include tissue donation.

   2) Register on the online donor registry at

If you register online at, you can be more specific about your donation decisions. For example, you can choose which organs or tissues you want to donate and exclude those you do not want to donate.

If you have a heart on your driver's license you can also register as a donor online, your online record supersedes your DMV record because it is the more specific donation document.

Through the North Carolina Heart Prevails Law (Session Law 2007-538), if you have registered your decision to be a donor, your decision cannot be overturned by others. It relieves the family of making this decision on your behalf, so please be sure to tell them when you join the registry.

What organs and tissues can be donated and how are they used?

Organs that can be donated are the heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys, and small intestines. Organs are used to save lives by replacing diseased organs with healthy ones. Tissues that can be donated include skin, bone, corneas, heart valves, and veins.

If I change my mind, how can I change my donor record?

If your donor registration (red heart) is on your NC driver's license or ID card, you can create an online donor record that will supersede your DMV donor record. Go to the Update Your Donor Profile page and log in by entering your driver's license number and birthdate. Once you log in, you can update your donor record however you wish. Because this online donor record is more detailed, it supersedes your DMV donor record.

If you wish to remove yourself from the NC Donor Registry, log in as noted above and then scroll to the very bottom of the page. You will see a box that you can check that says "Remove me from the donor registry." Click that box to remove your name from the online donor registry, then click Submit.

However, because we have read-only access to DMV data, it will not change the donor designation on your driver's license. The next time you renew your driver's license, please tell the examiner that you would like the donor designation removed from your license, so your online donor record and your DMV donor record will match. In the meantime, your online donor record is the one that will be followed since it is the most detailed record.

If you registered via our website, visit the Update Your Donor Profile page in the Donor Registry section of the site. Enter your username or email address and your password. If you do not know your password, click the "I forgot my account information" link below.

Once you are logged in, scroll to the bottom of the registration form and check the box to be removed from the registry.

Is there any cost to my family if I am an organ/tissue donor?

No. All costs associated with donation are paid by the organ procurement organization. Your family is only responsible for hospital charges before the death declaration and for funeral expenses.

Will becoming a registered donor affect the quality of medical care I receive?

Absolutely not. Medical care is always based on what is necessary to save a patient’s life. Patients can be considered for donation only after they are declared dead.

Is there any age limit for donation?

No. Potential donors are evaluated on an individual basis, regardless of age.

If I am in good health can I sell my organs for money?

No. It is against the law to buy or sell organs in the United States.

Can my organs be used if I die at home?

Unfortunately, no. However, tissue and eye donation can possibly occur when someone dies at home. Only individuals who die in the hospital have the potential to be organ donors.

Will the donation impact traditional funeral services?

The cause and circumstances of death could have an impact on timing and funeral arrangements. It is important to work with an experienced funeral director. During the recovery procedure, the utmost care and respect is taken with the donor’s body and every effort is made to meet your needs. Donated organs and tissues are removed by skilled medical professionals in a sterile surgical procedure.

How do I donate my body to research/science?

Individuals considering whole body donation are advised to make arrangements with the medical school or research program of their choice. In most instances being an organ donor usually prevents whole body donation, but each program has different requirements. We encourage you to contact the medical school or research program you are interested in for more information.

How many people can be helped by tissue donation?

More than 75 people can be helped through one tissue donor.

How many lives can be saved by one organ donor?

One organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people.