Organ Donation: Giving the Gift of Life

Posted 08/10/2016 | By HealthCorps

Did you know that one organ donor can save up to eight lives? Regardless of your age and medical history, you can sign up to be an organ donor. If it makes you a bit uncomfortable to contemplate doing this, because it makes you think about your end-of-life, then no need to dwell on those thoughts. You can easily go to RegisterMe.org/HealthCorps online and with a few entries and clicks you’ll be done. You will now be a “life saver.”

Some facts about organ donation

95% of Americans are in favor of being a donor but only 52% are registered (120 million).
• More than 120,000 people in the U.S. are waiting and in need of organ transplants
• On average, 79 people receive an organ transplant daily, while 22 people die every day waiting for an organ
• Every ten minutes, another name is added to the organ transplant waiting list
• In 2015, organ donors made 30,000 transplants possible
To date in 2016, 16,445 organ donations have been performed
• If you’re in your 50s, 60s or older then you can still sign up to be an organ, eye or tissue donor – your age is not limiting
• Your ethnicity, financial status and standing in the community do not affect your ability to donate
• There is no cost to you to become a donor
• More donors are needed

Who needs an organ donation?

A child under a year old through someone over age sixty five may be in need of an organ transplant. In some cases a living donor can donate an organ (bone marrow, kidney, part of a liver). In these cases, a family member may be a good match and be able to directly donate the needed organ. Quite often, though, a family member may not match well. New creative donations “links” help to connect several people needing the same or different organs, with multiple donors looking to access an organ donation for a family member. For example, you donate a kidney to a non-relative and his relative, who matches well with someone you know, donates part of their liver. In some cases it’s an association with many degrees of separation that achieves cross donations. Thanks to the social media, these creative linked donations are more common.

It is important to realize that the gap in numbers between those who need an organ transplant and donors continues to widen. More donors are needed!!

It could happen to you or someone in your family

Babies are sometimes born needing an organ transplant. Children with certain genetic predispositions can suddenly need an organ. Infants, children and adults can develop a blood disease or cancer and suddenly need a bone marrow transplant. A traumatic event or accident can occur changing someone’s life so that they suddenly need an organ donation. With heart disease the number one killer of men and women, there is a growing need for organ donations for heart transplants. And with burgeoning levels of diabetes, and escalating rates of hypertension (both linked with kidney failure), there is now a greater need for adequate numbers of kidney donors.

A wide range of individuals are in need of organ donations

According to the most recent data, individuals of most races and ethnicities in the U.S. donate in proportion to their representation in the population. The need for organs in some groups, however, is elevated.

Current statistics show that African Americans, Asians and Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics/Latinos are three times more likely than Caucasians to suffer from end-stage renal (kidney) disease. These groups have higher rates of health or lifestyle issues like obesity and diabetes that put their kidneys in particular, at higher risk of acute and chronic damage and failure. Currently, about 34 percent of the people on the national waiting list for a kidney transplant are African-American.

Organs are not matched according to race or ethnicity

One of the ways to ensure that a person in need of an organ transplant will receive life-saving surgery is to increase the number of donors and to also make sure that there is diversity among donors. When you become a donor, you add to those numbers and that diversity.

How to become a donor

To cover your bases as a donor, you can designate your decision to be a donor on your driver’s license. You can let friends and family know about your decision. You can also tell your physician and the clergy involved in your life. If you do have an advanced directive or living will, you can include organ donation in the document.

You can visit RegisterMe.org/HealthCorps to easily become an official organ donor!

“The need for organ, eye and tissue donors is on-going, so join Donate Life America by participating in one of our many celebrations and observances throughout the year! Together, through spreading the word and educating others about donation, we can take small steps each day towards saving more lives.”

Important dates for organ donation

You can sign up to be a donor today or any day. The yearly health calendar observes some special days and months in this effort including:

National Donor Day – February 14
National Kidney Month – March
National Eye Donor Month – March
National Donate Life Month – April
National Donate Life Blue & Green Day – April 15th
Donate Life ECHO – July 10-23, 2016
Liver Awareness Month – October
National Donor Sabbath – November 11-13, 2016
Next Month: Busting the Myths Linked to Organ Donation

Sources:
Donate Life America
Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network
OrganDonor.gov
Gift of Life /Donor Program

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