Save a Life / Make a Difference

Organ donation – I know – not the easiest topic or a fun one to discuss. It means you or a loved one has passed away. Despite that depressing thought, if we don’t talk about organ donation, then people may not consider donating. It’s easy to say, ‘I’ll take care of it later’ or ‘I’ll sign up the next time I renew my driver’s license, and then never get to it or forget to check that box on the renewal form for your driver’s license.

Of course, it is each person’s own choice to become an organ donor, or to not become one, and I am not here to tell you that you should. Nevertheless, I do hope you will consider becoming an organ donor.

It is amazing to think that one person’s organs can be given to eight different people, changing the lives of receivers and their loved ones. Along with the eight organs (discussed below), other recipients in need can receive corneas, skin, heart valves, bones, veins, blood vessels, and several other body tissues. I was not even aware that some of these could be donated. What an amazing gift to give someone: fighting for their life, a burn victim, restoring someone’s sight, and others in need.

The 8 organs that can be donated are:

  1. Heart – approx. 3,500 heart transplants are done each year around the world.
  2. Lung (2) – double lung transplant is typical, but one lung transplant can also be done. Living donors can also be used.
  3. Kidney (2) – either a single or double transplant can be done. Living donors can also be used.
  4. Liver – a liver can be divided into two and be given to two different recipients. The liver regenerates itself so a living donor can donate a portion of their liver.
  5. Pancreas – has a success rate of around 80-95%.
  6. Intestines – the Cleveland Clinic performed 17 transplants at their Cleveland location in 2021.

“As of February 2021, the number of patients on the national transplant waiting list was more than 107,000”; over 1,900 of them are children. It is difficult to not only find a match due to organ type, but organs are limited. A surprising fact I read, “only three in 1,000 people die in a way that allows for organ donation after death”; that is an amazingly small number. I would have thought the number would be much higher. Another fact I read, is that “More than half of all people on the transplant waiting list are from a minority group.” Why is this important? Per Donate Life Midwest’s fact sheet, “Although organs are not matched by race and ethnicity … all individuals waiting for an organ transplant will have a better chance of receiving one if there are large numbers of donors from their racial or ethnic background. This is because compatible blood types and tissue markers—critical qualities for donor and recipient matching—are more likely to be found among members of the same ethnicity.”

If you decide that you want to be an organ donor, please:

  1. Sign up at organdonor.gov,
  2. Talk it over with your family so they know your wishes,
  3. Encourage your family and friends to become donors,
  4. As difficult as it is to think about, if you child wants to register to be on the organ donor list, please give them your blessing, and permission, which is needed in most states. “The size of the body and the organ matter when matching donors to receiving patients. That’s why very small children most often receive donations from other young people.”

I hope you consider being an organ donor, you may save a life.

2 thoughts on “Save a Life / Make a Difference

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