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Donate Life Month: The Difference Between Organ Donation and Living Donation

April is Donate Life Month, when we celebrate the incredible generosity of those who have saved lives by becoming organ, tissue, marrow, and blood donors. During Donate Life Month, we are focusing on encouraging even more people to register to save a life. 

About 115,000 men, women, and children are on the national transplant waiting list, and in 2018 about 145 million people over the age of 18 were registered as organ donors. Each day in the U.S. about 80 people receive organ transplants. There are two types of donation that you can consider—living donation and deceased organ donation. In 2018, there were a total of 17,553 donors, with 10,722 being deceased donors and 6,831 live donors. You should consider signing up to become either type of donor:

Living donation

A living donation is one where the organ or tissues can be donated while the donor is alive. Living donors can typically donate one of their two kidneys, one of two lobes of their liver, a lung or part of lung, part of the pancreas, or part of the intestines. The decision to be a live donor is a very personal one, and the transplant center where you would make the donation would run a series of tests to determine your suitability. If you are considering becoming a living organ donor, UPMC Transplant Services can help you get started. 

Deceased organ donation:

A deceased organ donation is the one that many people are most familiar with. It’s the donation of an organ, eye, or tissue at the time of the donor’s death. One donor can save eight lives, but only three people in 1,000 die in a way that can allow for an organ donation. This is why registering as many people as possible is so important. About 95% of U.S adults support organ donation, and yet only about 58% are actually signed up as an organ donor.

How to get involved:

  • Register to become a donor in your state
  • Talk to your friends and family and make sure you have discussed your wishes for organ donation
  • Use social media to raise awareness about the need and importance for donation
  • Volunteer

If you know someone who may be interested in learning more, share the U.S. Government Information on Organ Donation and Transplantation page with them so they get answers for any questions they have.


Donate Life America. Living Donation. Retrieved from:

UPMC Health Beat. Organ Donation and Living Donation: Registration 101. Retrieved from:

US Department of Health and Human Services. Living Donation Process. Retrieved from:

US Department of Health and Human Services. Organ Donation Statistics. Retrieved from: