How To Be An Organ Donor and Save Lives
Recent headlines about children who are in desperate need of an organ transplant have turned attention to one obvious solution—at least in the long run. That solution is to convince more people to register as organ donors so more organ transplantations can take place and lives can be saved.
Who are organ transplant candidates?
Currently, more than 118,000 people in the United States need an organ transplant. Of those, nearly 1,800 are children.
Of the 118,000 individuals, 76,000 are considered active candidates, which means they are medically able to accept an organ—if one is available. Organ donor candidates frequently become inactive temporarily if their health changes or they need to meet other eligibility requirements.
However, the total number of individuals in need of a transplant far exceeds the number of organs available. Here’s a look at the figures from 2012:
- 28,062 organ transplants performed
- 14,013 organ donors
- Corneas transplanted in 2012: more than 46,000
Only about 45 percent of adults in the United States have signed up to be an organ donor, according to Donate Life America, a nonprofit advocacy agency that monitors organ donors in the US. The percentage of adults in any given state who are designated donors varies widely, from 5 percent in Vermont to 82 percent in Montana.
How can you sign up to be an organ donor? When you get a new driver’s license or renew one you can sign up at your state motor vehicles office. You can also register anytime online at Donate Life America. But what does it mean to be an organ donor?
Facts about organ and tissue donation
These facts from Donate Life America may help you make up your mind about signing up to be an organ donor.
- People of any age race, and medical condition can be a potential organ donor
- An open casket funeral is possible for anyone who has been an organ, eye, or tissue donor
- There is no charge to the organ donor or his/her family for organ or tissue donation
- There are two types of organ donation: deceased donor and living donor. A deceased donor can give corneas, heart, intestinal organs, kidneys, liver, lungs, and pancreas. A living donor can give a kidney or a portion of the intestine, liver, lung, or pancreas
- An organ donation is possible only after an individual has been declared brain dead
- Donation professionals decide which organs can be transplanted from a donor and which patients on the national transplant waiting list can receive them
- Most deceased individuals are potential cornea donors. When individuals have authorized their corneas to be donated, the hospital contacts an eye bank and arranges for the donation, which usually occurs within 12 hours of death.
- Most deceased individuals also are potential tissue donors. When people agree to be tissue donors, the hospital notifies the local tissue recovery organization and potential recipients are located. Tissue can be processed and stored for extended periods of time for use in burn patients and other situations. One tissue donor has the potential to help more than 50 individuals
Everyone has the ability to be a potential organ or tissue donor. When you register to be a donor, you could someday help save a life or significantly improve the quality of life of a child or adult in need.