Take Charge of Your Health - Organ Donation
The Gift of Life
Organ Donation is not a tragedy; but it can be a beautiful light in the midst of one. - Unkown
The number of organ transplant patients on the waiting list grows every year, outpacing the number of donors and the availability of organs. As of April 2018, over 114,000 Americans were awaiting transplants. Someone is added to the organ donation waiting list every 10 minutes and approximately 20 people die every day while waiting for an organ!
When surveyed, 95% of adults in the U.S. support the concept of organ donation, and yet only 58% actually sign up as donors. People of all ages, medical histories and religions can consider themselves as potential donors. Four out of every ten donations are living donations among family members and close friends who donate a kidney, liver lobe, tissue or blood.
Each donor has the potential to supply a variety of organs that can go to multiple patients including heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys, intestines as well as skin, middle ear, corneas, tissues, blood stem cells, cord blood, bone marrow, blood and platelets.
Here is how the system works:
Upon the death of a potential donor, the hospital notifies the Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) and provides the OPO with information as to whether the deceased has the potential to be a donor. If the deceased is registered as a donor this serves as legal consent and expedites the process. Otherwise, the OPO typically contacts next of kin to discuss authorization. This timing can be difficult opening up painful, but time-sensitive conversations often when the family is in shock.
The OPO enters all information about the deceased donor into the computer system and generates a list of matches. The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network operates a national database of patients waiting for transplants. Organs and other transplants go to the best-matched donors. Strict standards are in place to ensure fair distribution of organs. Organs are matched by blood and tissue type, organ size, medical urgency, waiting time and geographic location.
There are a number of questions and myths about organ transplant. One common question is, "What are the success rates of transplants?" The data is clear that transplanted organs save, as well as change, lives. Heart recipients have a five year survival rate of 70% and can enjoy a significant improvement in their quality of life. A donated kidney can eliminate the need for dialysis (which often consumes several hours a day, 3-4 days a week). Over 70% of transplanted livers last over five years and 50% last over twenty years. Corneal transplants can restore vision, while tissue transplants can save patients from life threatening burns. Common myths are addressed in this helpful article.
If you are interested in becoming a donor, please join a donor registry to give your legal consent. For more information or to register, visit www.donatelife.net or www.OrganDonor.gov Once registered, be sure to carry your donor card in your wallet and share your decision with your family so they are aware of your wishes. Most states also offer organ donor selection as part of their drivers license program and, in fact, Registries/Departments of Motor Vehicles account for the vast majority of organ donor registrations.
As always, join us on the Health-E³ website blog page or check out further info on organ donation We look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences. Feel free to ask a question about anything on the website or suggest ideas for additional helpful information. And remember, it's up to you to Take Charge of Your Health.