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About Eye Tissue Donation

Organ and Tissue donors are key to the work we do. Sign up today to Give the Gift of Sight!

Expressing your interest in donation is simple. The two most common ways people register to become Organ, Eye, and Tissue donors are:

  • Register at the DMV 

    • This can easily be done while applying for your driver's license! All you need to do is check the box on the form.

  • Register online at Donate Life Virginia.

    • This method can be done anywhere you have an internet connection!

    • Through the Donate Life Virginia site, you can be more specific about your wishes for individual organs and tissues, and their use once donated. 

​Whether you register as a donor or not, be sure to communicate your wishes

to your loved ones on how your body is to be handled upon death.

Talk to your Teen about Organ Donation. Teens getting their learner's permit can, with parent's permission, register

I have (fill in condition or illness here)- Can I still donate?

Since the body doesn't pump blood into the corneas (if they did, we would always be seeing red!), cornea donations can happen even if other organs have been determined ineligible for donation. Even tissue that is determined to be ineligible for transplant can assist with giving the Gift of Sight through use for research and education. Research contributes to the restoration of sight by providing a better understanding of ocular diseases. It is only through donation that new treatments for blindness are made possible. Education helps the next generation of surgeons and technicians learn more about the eye and the procedures that they will be utilizing.

Does my family pay for the cost of donation?

No. You can sign up to be an eye, organ and tissue donor for free either at your local DMV, or on the Donate Life website. When the time comes, donation costs nothing for the donor or the donor’s family.

How does it work?

At the time of death, the eye bank screens an individual to determine whether that individual is eligible for donation. Donor Coordinators check to determine if the deceased had registered as a donor. Attempts to contact the family are made to inform the next-of-kin about the decedent’s having registered, or, if the decedent is not registered, to offer the option of donation.

Will my Donation really help that much?

Yes! There are more people in need of organs, tissues, and corneas than there are donors. Donor tissues fill transplant schedules first locally, then nationally, then globally. There is a great need for tissue internationally, as many countries have not yet developed  robust, successful donation programs. The Lions Medical Eye Bank is proud to be able to facilitate the supply of tissue to these areas.


Approximately 100,000 corneal transplant procedures are performed every year worldwide, with some estimates reporting that the worldwide need for corneas affects nearly 10,000,000 people.

Who can be a donor? Anyone! Poor eyesight/ age does not prevent you from being a donor.  Talk to your family about your wish.

What if I don't get the chance to register?

If you have not registered as an organ donor, attempts will be made to contact your family to offer the option of donation. In the absence of a legal document of anatomical gift created by an individual, the Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (rev. 2007), lists the following order of priority for who may make anatomical gift of decedent’s body or part (sec. 9(a)):

  • an agent of the donor, unless the power of attorney for health care or other record prohibits the agent from making an anatomical gift (as phrased in sec. 4 (2));

  • the spouse of the decedent;

  • adult children of the decedent;

  • parents of the decedent;

  • adult siblings of the decedent;

  • adult grandchildren of the decedent;

  • grandparents of the decedent;

  • an adult who exhibited special care and concern for the decedent;

  • the persons who were acting as the [guardians] of the person of the decedent at the time of death; and

  • any other person having the authority to dispose of the decedent’s body.

What Laws Protect My Right to Donate?

In the U.S., there has been significant legislation to facilitate donation, especially with regard to who may make a legal document of anatomical gift for a decedent.


In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA), legalizing the donation of organs and tissues. The 1968 UAGA stipulated for the first time that an individual, upon death, could irrevocably donate his or her organs for medical purposes.


The Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (rev. 2007) has been adopted by all 50 states, and therefore is standardized across the USA. You can read Virginia's law for yourself here.

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