The Importance of Organ Donation, A Reminder


 

For those of you who don’t know, I received a heart transplant at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida almost two and a half years ago.  My new heart came from a 35 year old stranger.  Without it I would have died within a few months. 

 

As of this writing there are 105,000 people on the national organ waiting list.  82,000 of them are waiting for kidneys (http://optn.transplant.hrsa.gov/).  A new name is added to the organ waiting list every 11 minutes.  A million more people suffer from blindness, medical conditions or devastating injuries that can be successfully treated with donated corneas or tissue.  

 

You would think that with 300 plus million people in this country there would be more than enough organs and tissue to save or enhance all of those lives. The fact is that while 90 percent of Americans believe in organ donation barely 35 percent take the time to register.  That means that each year more and more people are dying because of a lack of organs, nearly eighteen people die each day while waiting.  These deaths are totally unnecessary.  One organ donor can save or affect the lives of up to sixty people — sixty people!  North Dakota and Minnesota serve as marvelous examples of people getting the message. The donation percentage in Minnesota is 51% and in North Dakota it is 65%. 

 

Good intentions are not enough.  If you want to pay more than lip service to the issue, go to http://www.donatelife.net/ and you will immediately discover how you can register.  Donate Life America (DLA) is a part of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), which keeps the waiting lists and coordinates donation and transplantation throughout the United States.  If you are not a computer person either write to Donate Life America 700 N. Fourth Street Richmond, Virginia 23219 or you can call them at phone: 804-782-4920 and they will be happy to help you.  Whether you are a registered donor or not, talk to everyone you know about organ and tissue donation, there is no act that is nobler.

 

There are a multitude of questions about organ donation but here are the answers to just a few:

  1. What can be donated?  Organs: Heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas, liver and intestines.  Tissue: Corneas, skin, veins, tendons, bone, heart valves and connective tissue.
  2. Should age or health affect my decision to be a donor?  No. Almost everyone can save lives through donation!
  3. Will my family have to pay for the cost of my organ and/or tissue donation?  There is no cost to the donor family for donation. All expenses related to organ and tissue donation are paid by LifeSource and passed on to the transplant recipients and their health insurers.
  4. Does my religion support organ and tissue donation?  All major religions support organ and tissue donation as one of the highest forms of loving, giving and caring.
  5. If I am a registered donor and I am admitted to a hospital, will they let me die so they can recover my organs?  Absolutely not.  Organ and tissue donation is an option only after all life-saving measures have failed.
  6. Can the rich and famous jump the list based on their celebrity status?  No.  Organs are fairly allocated based on medical criteria, genetic matching, and length of time on the waiting list.

There are many more questions and the answers can be found by calling LifeSource or visiting their website.

I am alive because of the generosity of a total stranger but there are so many just like me who will probably die waiting.  If every person who became a donor would convince just one other person to do the same there would be no shortage and we could stop the dying.  Please act today; it’s a matter of life and death.

Please comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at bob@baronson.org.  And – spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors.  On-line registration can be done at http://www.donatelife.net/index.php  Whenever you can, help people formally register.  There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance.  If you convince one person to be a donor you may save or positively affect over 50 lives.  Some of those lives may be people you know and love.  

You are also invited to join Organ Transplantation Initiative (OTI) http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=152655364765710 a group dedicated to providing help and information to donors, donor families, transplant patients and families, caregivers and all other interested parties.  Your participation is important if we are to influence decision makers to support efforts to increase organ donation and support organ regeneration, replacement and research efforts.   

Posted on January 25, 2010, in Organ Donation. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Bob, I want to thank you for the information you are getting out to people regarding organ donation. I am waiting for a lung transplant going on 3 years now. I have Alpha 1, I also am listed at Mayo in Rochester MN, just recently I am trying to double list due to high antibodies. I am in Boston MA, where I am staying with family. While I was in Rochester Mn. I and another person went into the health classes at local schools to discuss the topic of organ donation. The kid’s want to donate however it is never discussed as a family. We would also go to driver ed classes, in MN. they have a short movie to watch. The impact seeing some one waiting on oxygen like myself and some one who had a lung transplant like the person who went with me is awesome, when 16,17 year old kid’s come up and give you a hug with tear’s in there eye’s well it make’s it all worth it…. I feel all families should sit down and discuss the topic of Organ Donation with the children and the parent’s so they know each other’s wishes.Then as a family go and sign up to become organ donor’s. Do not take your organ’s to heaven. Heaven know’s we need them here. Kathy

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  2. Bob – great to hear from you and see your picture. Next time you are in the clinic please stop in to say hello. Us “Chisholm people” have to stick together. Bill Rupp

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  3. Good to hear from you again Bob. Keep speakin the truth!

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