In the time it takes you to read this article, another person will be added
to a waiting list, hoping to receive a life-saving organ from a complete
stranger—someone who believes in passing along the gift of life.
Organ transplantation has become a long-accepted medical treatment for
end-stage organ failure, but the truth is, there are just not enough organ
donors. Today, about 80 people will receive an organ transplant that will
likely prolong their life by many years; but, 22 others, on average, will
die from lack of an available organ. One thing to remember is that each
number represents a life—a mom, dad, brother, sister or child—someone
who is important to someone else. Maybe even you.
Each April, Donate Life America and its partnering organizations celebrate
National Donate Life Month, by encouraging Americans to register as organ,
eye and tissue donors and to celebrate those who have saved lives through
their gift of donation. Despite advances in medicine and technology, and
increased awareness of organ donation and transplantation, the gap between
supply and demand continues to widen. The number of people on the national
waiting list continues to grow at a faster rate than those registering
to be donors. As you read this, nearly 119,000 men, women and children
await organ transplants in the United States. Approximately 8,000 deaths
occur yearly in the U.S. because organs are not donated in time.
That number is a little brighter than it appears. Each donor can save up
to eight lives through organ donation. It’s not just major organs
that help in this struggle. One tissue donor can enhance the lives of
up to 50 people.
- Tissue - Corneas, the middle ear, skin, heart valves, bone, veins, cartilage,
tendons and ligaments can be stored in tissue banks and used to restore
sight, cover burns, repair hearts, replace veins and mend damaged connective
tissue and cartilage in recipients.
- Blood and platelets - You can donate blood and platelets more than once.
It is safe to donate blood every 56 days and platelets every four weeks.
- Stem cells - Healthy adults between the ages of 18-60 can donate blood
According to the Health and Human Services (HHS), its most recent data
from 2014 shows there were a little over 2.6 million deaths in the U.S.
that year. Imagine if even half of those persons had donated. Why don't
we donate more? Many myths about organ donation still exist:
"I'm too young or too old to donate."
Fact: You're never too old to be a donor. If you're under 18,
you would need your family's permission.
"I'm not in the best of health. Nobody would want my organs or
Fact: The decision to use your organs is based on strict medical criteria,
not age. All must come through an organ procurement organization, like
Midwest Transplant Network, with whom St. Mary's Medical Center connects
donors and recipients.
"If the hospital knows I’m an organ donor the staff won't
work as hard to save my life."
Fact: When you go to the hospital for treatment, doctors and nurses focus
on saving your life, not somebody else's.
"An open-casket funeral isn't an option for donors."
Fact: Organ and tissue donation does not prolong nor interfere with having
an open-casket funeral.
"Organ donation is against my religion."
Fact: Organ donation is consistent with the beliefs of most major religions
and viewed as the final act of love and generosity
"My family will be charged if I donate my organs."
Fact: Donation costs nothing to the donor’s family or estate.
"Mostly rich and famous people go to the top of the list when they
need a donor organ."
Fact: While publicity may lead you to believe otherwise, celebrities are
treated no differently from anyone else in regards to the waiting list
While 90 percent of Americans say they support donation, only 30 percent
know the steps needed to become a donor. You can change this today by
joining the organ, eye and tissue donor registry at your local Department
of Motor Vehicles or online at YesTheyWantMe.com. While you're at
it, encourage others to do so as well.