Ask the Organ Donor Experts – Session 3 – Registration

First, a special thanks to Colette Jordan over at College of DuPage for coordinating this excellent story about their Students for Organ Donation chapter and campus efforts in their student newspaper, the Courier.

Today we bring you the third session of our “Ask the Donor Experts!” feature, addressing myths, concerns, or any questions related to organ/tissue donation. Donor registration varies from state to state and we turn to Dave Bosch, Chair of Donate Life Illinois and Director of Communications at Gift of Hope to address the question submitted below.

Keep the questions coming and have a great weekend!


Q: If an Illinois resident registers to be an organ donor in Illinois and then changes residency, when that person dies, are they still organ donors in Illinois? And where do their organs go, to a recipient in the state that person is registered?

A: Illinois residents, who are registered organ and tissue donors, will remain on the registry, unless the person requests that their name be removed. If an Illinois resident relocates to another state, that person should register their donation decision in the state in which they are residing. In the event that someone were to pass away in Illinois but actually has residency in another state, we would check with our counterparts in that state to determine whether the individual is a registered donor and act accordingly per their wishes. The protocol is the same in other states as it is in Illinois.

Organ allocation is based on the donor’s location at the time of death, essentially to provide donated organs to the sickest matching patients as close to the donor’s location as possible in order to minimize transportation time and transplant the organ as quickly as possible for the best possible medical outcome. The longer that an organ stays outside the body, the greater the chance it may not function as well upon transplantation. There are different windows of time for each type of organ in which it will optimally function after transplant. The heart and lungs, for example can be preserved for four to six hours, the pancreas and liver can be preserved for 12 to 24 hours, while the kidney can function as long as 72 hours from surgical recovery to transplant.

Tissue has a much larger window of time. Heart valves, skin, bone and saphenous veins can be preserved from three to ten years. If someone passes away and becomes a donor in Illinois, donated organs will be matched first with locally based transplant candidates if at all possible – if that is not possible, then the donation will be matched with patients in a larger geographic area.

To register to be an organ and tissue donor in Illinois, visit to register online, call 800/210-2106, or visit any Illinois Secretary of State driver’s services facility. Non-Illinois residents should visit to learn how to designate their donor decision.

– Dave
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