Americans Support Organ Donation Few Follow Through

Organ donation
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There are over 100,000 people in the United States waiting for organ transplants. Their plight to survive and live depends on people willing to sign up and donate organs. Studies show Americans support organ donation, but few follow through.

Organ donation takes healthy organs and tissues from one person for transplantation into another. Experts say that the organs from one donor can save or help as many as 50 people. Steve Jobs CEO of Apple returned to work this week after taking off for six months with a rare form of pancreatic cancer knows this all too well.

At media event September 11, 2009, called “It’s only Rock and Roll” people were expecting him to talk about the new upgrades to Apple's iPod product line, instead Jobs called out to people to participate in organ donation. At his press conference this week Steve Jobs, with grace and humility, thanked the donor, an anonymous car crash victim, to whom he owes his life after receiving a liver. Jobs is aware that Americans support organ donations and few sign up.

Every 11 minutes another name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list and 18 people die daily because they did not receive an organ they needed. "Most Americans do support organ donation," said Kris Patterson, a spokeswoman for the Donor Network of Arizona. But she and others noticed that people are not following through. In fact, 90% of Americans say they support donation, but only 30% know the essential steps to take to be a donor.

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Once people decide to donate, they might not know how to go about it. Patterson said the federal government's Web site www.organdonor.gov is a good source of help as it offers state-by-state guidance. "Each state is different," Patterson said. "Each state has a different organ procurement organization, and some states have more than one." Once signed up, donors should double-check their status if they move to another state, she said.

Many of the donor organizations realize that Americans support organ donations and few sign up so they have raised their profile by handing out fact sheets and brochures about organ donation and donor programs at health fairs and other community events. Any time word gets out about the inspirational real-life stories linking a donor's family and a recipient's family, non-donors are nudged to think about donating and act on it, Patterson said.

Steve Jobs knows this all to well and is taking the opportunity to get the word out. “All you need do is sign up as an organ donor or consent to the donation of a loved one's organs. But we don't sign up, we're busy, we don't like thinking about mortality, nothing is quite real until it affects us. I wasn't an organ donor before all this. I thought of myself as one, as being that type of person, but I never did anything about it.”

By people speaking out and learning more about how to participate in organ donation, organizations throughout America hope to get more awareness. They know Americans support organ donations and few sign up and they are urging American to sign up and save a life.

References
AJC
Calgary Herald

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