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:
- What can be donated? Organs: Heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas, liver and intestines. Tissue: Corneas, skin, veins, tendons, bone, heart valves and connective tissue.
- Should age or health affect my decision to be a donor? No. Almost everyone can save lives through donation!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.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.