Chris Henry Donated Organs to Five People

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The sudden and tragic death of NFL wide receiver Chris Henry provided life for others through organ donation. LifeShare of the Carolinas confirmed that Henry was an organ donor and that his organs were given to at least five people.

Henry, 26, was killed after falling out of the bed of a pickup truck and suffering massive head trauma. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, speaking at Henry’s memorial service, said that Henry’s legacy would be a “good person who made mistakes, then sought to better himself.”

The Cincinnati Bengal’s organization will be a part of an Ohio TV ad campaign to raise awareness of organ donations and to encourage people to become donors. Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer received a tissue donation when he suffered a knee injury two years ago and will be a part of the campaign.

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"When it's a high-profile person or high-profile case, this really brings awareness that, wow, lives were saved as a result of something so tragic," said Andi Johnson, a representative of Life Center, a group that raises awareness in Cincinnati. "We're really excited to have his support and the Bengals organization's support on such an important issue."

According to national statistics, over 21,000 organ and tissue transplants were performed in the United States from January to September 2009. Approximately 105,000 people remain on the waiting list as of 12/15/2009 with names added every 11 minutes. A national report card from Donate Life America showed an increase of 9 million donor designations over the last 18 months, bringing the total number of registered donors in the United States to almost 80 million.

Most of the organs used in transplants come from people who have suffered brain death as the result of an accident, heart attack, or stroke. The organs and tissues that are in good condition are removed in a surgical procedure and transplanted within 6 and 72 hours after harvest. Organs such as the heart, lung, intestine, liver, kidneys and pancreas can be donated. Other tissue that can be used include the corneas of the eyes, skin, bone, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage.

Donate Life America estimates that 90% of Americans support organ donation, but only 30% know the essential steps to take to become a donor. They give this advice for those seeking to become organ donors:

  1. Register with your state donor registry. Most states, but not all, have donor registries. A list of states can be found at http://organdonor.gov.
  2. Designate your decision on your driver’s license. Do this when you obtain or renew your license.
  3. Sign a donor card now. Carry the donor card with you until you can designate your donation decision on your driver’s license or join a donor registry.
  4. Talk to your family about your donation decision. Help your family understand your wish to be an organ and tissue donor before a crisis occurs. Then they will be prepared to serve as your advocate for donation.
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