Ask the Organ Donor Expert – Chronic Medical Conditions

It’s been awhile since we’ve featured a question as part of our Ask the Donor Expert series. Dave Bosch, Communications Director at Gift of Hope addresses the concern below.

Happy Friday,

I have a chronic medical condition; can I still register to be an organ/tissue donor?

Dave Bosch

Yes! For any death where organ donation is a possibility and consent is given, there will be a medical assessment of what organs can be recovered.

A handful of medical conditions will rule out organ donation, such as HIV-positive status, actively spreading cancer (except for primary brain tumors that have not spread beyond the brain stem), or certain severe, current infections. However, for most other diseases or chronic medical conditions, organ/tissue donation remains possible.

Unfortunately, many people never indicate their wish to donate because they believe, falsely, that their age or medical condition would not allow them to donate. If you want to save and enhance lives through donation, the most important action you can take is to register your decision on Illinois’ organ/tissue donor registry.

If donation is not medically feasible, that determination will be made at the time of death.


6 Responses to Ask the Organ Donor Expert – Chronic Medical Conditions

  1. Colette says:

    Thanks for addressing this issue, Dave. So many times when I am out at a registration drive or advocating for donation; the number 1 reason people give me for not wanting to become an organ donor, is that they have had diabetes, cancer, or hepatitis B or C. It’s good to hear that “the doctors should decide at the time of death” from the expert. I’m going to print this, and display it at my next reg drives. Thanks!
    Colette Jordan

  2. Woman Drugs says:

    Just fellow author, a very interesting article, is rarely found in the network once again want to thank the sponsors, thank you.

  3. It’s my understanding that some of this varies by state and by organ/tissue being donated. For example, some states have transplanted HIV+ organs (into HIV+ recipients, since they’ve already got the virus). Cornea donation is often a possibility, even with fully metasticized cancer, since corneas are avascular and don’t get cancer.

    Leaving it up to the medical professionals to decide at the time of donation is definitely the way to go. 60 years from now, when I’m being considered for organ/tissue donation, the medical protocol will probably be different than it is today. =)

  4. Sophie Binkler says:

    If I have to pay for a kidney transplant b/c I have no insurance, what does it cost and who do I pay besides the surgeons? We are blessed to have the funds to pay our way, but are unsure if the total bill will exceed $1M.

  5. Joslyn says:

    Sophie – the costs incurred for transplant is determined on an individual basis as medical needs vary. Talk with your doctor and transplant team to determine what the costs will be. You should also check out the Kidney Recipient group on the Donate Life Illinois Ning site ( There you can talk to other recipients who can give you an idea of what to expect.

  6. CME says:

    While we’re discussing things in the vicinity of Ask the Organ Donor Expert – Chronic Medical Conditions Donate Life Illinois – Organ Donation News – I am. Are you?, We need to constantly remind politicians that it is bad policy to reduce the quality of medical education and training or seek to replace the central role of the doctor with lesser-qualified health workers.

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