There are currently more than 123,000 people in the U.S. that are waiting for an organ transplant. Every 12 minutes, another person is added to the national organ donor waiting list. These people are in desperate need of an organ or tissue transplant, however the sad truth is that more than 6,500 people, about 21 a day, will die before an organ or tissue becomes available. In honor of National Organ Donor Day, we wanted to inform everyone of the importance of organ donation.
Organ donation consists of transplanting healthy organs or tissues from one person into another. Doctors say that organs from one donor can help save as many as 50 people. Organs that can be donated include: kidneys, heart, liver, pancreas, intestines, lungs, skin, bone marrow and cornea. While most organ or tissue donation occurs after the donor has died, some organs can be donated when a donor is still alive.
Although there has been a continuous effort for the public education of organ donation, misconceptions about organ donation still exist. To better understand organ and tissue donation, here are some facts:
- There are strict standards and a national computer system in place to ensure ethical and fair organ distribution. Organs are distributed by blood and tissue type, organ size, urgency, waiting time and location.
- An open-casket funeral is still possible for organ donors.
- Organ or tissue donation will not be of cost to the donor’s family or estate.
- Donors from all races and ethnic groups are needed. Success rates of transplants tend to increase between members of the same ethnic background.
- If you are admitted to the hospital, the first and only priority is to save your life. You cannot be considered for organ donation until you have been declared brain dead by a doctor.
How can you become a donor?
People of all ages and races can become an organ donor. To register to donate your organs after death, you can fill out a registration with your state’s donor registry (OrganDonor.gov) or opt in to becoming an organ donor when you get or renew your driver license. If you are interested in becoming a living donor, you can work directly with your friend or family members transplant team, or contact your local transplant center to find out what organs are in need.