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For Patients & Families: Be an Organ Donor

be an
organ donor

overview of kidney donation

give the gift of a second chance


At any given time, over 100,000 Americans are waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant. Of those, more than 95,000 need a kidney, but just over 19,000 people receive one each year. And because so few Americans register to become organ donors, every day, 12 people die waiting for a kidney.


When you make the decision to become an organ donor, you are giving families the most extraordinary gift imaginable: the gift of life. 


If you are considering becoming a kidney donor, you have two options. 


  • You can donate a kidney after your life has ended - a gift commonly referred to as a deceased donation.

  • You can give the gift of life right now by giving a kidney today, and becoming a living donor.

The above data is approximate, based on data provided by OPTN

register to become a donor

get started now

Become a Deceased Donor


If you're an Illinois resident, registering to give organs and/or tissue once your life has ended is easy.


  • Simply visit the Illinois LifeGoesOn website and fill out the required information. You will then be enrolled in the state's online donor database.


  • You can also declare your intentions on your driver's license.

Become a Living Donor 


There are several paths you can take to become a living donor:


  • If you are donating to someone you know: you should contact the transplant center where the patient is listed and coordinate directly with their care team.


  • If you would like to donate to an anonymous recipient: you may do so by contacting a local Transplant Center. For information on Illinois transplant centers, please click below.


  • You can also donate anonymously by: enrolling with the National Kidney Registry, an organization that works to match donors with patients nation-wide.


being a living donor: fast facts

learn more about giving

Deciding to give a kidney, an organ, and/or tissue after your life has ended is, in some respects, a relatively straight-forward prospect. But there can be numerous factors at play in the decision to donate a kidney now, and become a living donor.


As you contemplate becoming a living donor, the following facts may help you construct your plan.  Please notemany of the items below include links for more information; these will take you to our national office's Kidney A - Z Health Guide.

Fast Facts

the big ask, the big give

a conversation can save a life

Big Ask, Big Give

The NKFI is proud to support The Big Ask, The Big Give, a patient service initiative managed by our national office focused on connecting kidney patients and potential organ donors with resources, information, and tangible support.


Too many people languish on the years-long kidney waitlist and don't get transplants simply because they don't know how to ask their friends, loved ones, or communities for help. The Big Ask, The Big Give aims to help patients begin that conversation, and find living donors.


Visit the Big Ask, Big Give website to learn more about living kidney donations, hear stories from people whose lives have been transformed by transplants, and connect with information specialists.


Need help starting the conversation?

Call our national office's patient hotline, NKF Cares:


1 (855) 653 - 2273

NKF Cares is a free, confidential hotline with trained professionals

ready to answer your questions or concerns

NKFI kidney health resources

The information shared on this website has been reviewed by staff at the New York City headquarters of the National Kidney Foundation. Please note: material contained here are intended solely for reference. This material does not constitute medical advice; it is intended for informational purposes only. If you feel you need professional medical care, please consult a physician for specific treatment recommendations.

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