As a parent, how can you talk with your kids about organ, eye and tissue donation? We know it can be difficult to start this conversation, and it can be even more challenging when the conversation is between you and your kids. To help make starting that conversation a bit easier, we’re breaking down when and how to best talk to your teens about what signing up to be an organ, eye and tissue donor means and how one goes about making that decision.
So, What does Signing up as an Organ, Eye and Tissue Donor Mean?
Signing up as an organ, eye and tissue donor means you have made the decision to donate your organs, eyes and tissues at the time of your death. As an adult, your decision to be a donor takes priority over your family’s preferences, so be sure and discuss your decision with loved ones. This is why it’s important for parents to have a conversation with their kids about donation. Our Donation Frequently Asked Questions page is a great resource for parents to learn more about the donation process and feel confident tackling the questions that may come up.
Talk with your Kids about Organ and Tissue Donation as they Get Ready to Apply for a Driver Permit or License.
Colorado and Wyoming residents can sign up to be organ, eye and tissue donors when obtaining or renewing their driver license or state ID, either in-person or online. In Colorado, you can sign up at the driver license office by saying Yes to organ, eye and tissue donation and in Wyoming, by checking Yes. When an individual signs up as a donor and receives their driver permit, driver license or state ID, there will be a heart with a ‘Y’ inside it. The ‘Y’ is a symbol of your confirmation of saying Yes to organ, eye and tissue donation.
What You Need to Know as a Parent or Legal Guardian
As their parent or legal guardian, you will have to sign in order to give consent for your teen to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor. Once they turn 18, their decision will become a first-person authorization as other adults. This is a great time to ensure they understand the importance of and facts around donation. Most importantly, that signing up to be a donor means you have made the decision to save lives by donating eligible organs, eyes, and tissues at the time of death.
How to Start the Conversation and Prepare Your Teen to Make a Decision before their Driver License Office Visit:
- Use your driver license to start the conversation and talk with your kids about organ and tissue donation:If you have a heart on your license: Many of our volunteers have shared that they started the conversation with their teens because their child asked them why there was a heart on it. Turn the question around and ask your teen if they know why there is a heart on the license. This is a great conversation starter.
- If you don’t have a heart but are registered: Your driver license is still a great prop to use to begin the conversation. Explain why there isn’t a heart on your license, how/when you registered and what you intend to do the next time you renew your license.
- If you aren’t registered: Ask your teen if they have seen a heart on a driver license and if they know what that means. Talk about what your decision is and why.
- Share a story about organ or tissue donation or transplantation.
- If you know someone who is a recipient: Share the story of a family member, friend, co-worker, neighbor or someone else you know who received an organ or tissue transplant. Did you know that many tissue grafts are used in different reconstructive surgeries such as ACL replacement, skin grafts for burn patients and coronary bypass? You may know someone who is recipient and not even know it!
- If you know someone who was a donor: Share the story of donation and how a loved one saved lives. This is the most impactful way for teens to understand why organ and tissue donation is life-saving.
- Read our stories of hope: Organ and tissue transplants are life-saving and our volunteers have shared why.
- Use the resources on our websites: