About Organ Donation
When a person decides to register to be an organ donor potentially 8 lives can be saved and up to 50 others healed. Your “yes” saves lives.
In simplest terms here is how organ donation works:
It all starts with a hero. Someone or someone’s family who in one of the darkest times of their life says “yes” to donation. Once social and medical history is obtained tests are run to determine if there are organs that would be viable for transplant.
If so those organs are allocated nationally based on a complex medical formula established by transplant doctors, public representatives, ethicists and organ recovery agencies. UNOS (the United Network for Organ Sharing) maintains the list of patients waiting for transplants. A donor’s blood type, tissue type, body weight, and size are matched against patients on the list. If there are multiple matches, priority is given to the sickest patients or, in the case of kidneys, those who have been on the waiting list the longest. Factors such as race, gender, age, income or celebrity status are never considered when determining who receives an organ.
Which Organs and Tissues can be Donated?
- Approximately 125,000 men, women and children are awaiting a life-saving organ transplants in the United States. For specific numbers visit unos.org
- Approximately 77,279 Multicultural Patients*
- Approximately 2,112 Pediatric Patients*
- 28,953 Organ Transplants Performed in 2013
- 14,257 Organ Donors in 2013
- More than 47,000 corneas were transplanted in 2013
- More than 1 million tissue transplants are done each year and the surgical need for tissue has been steadily rising.
*as of September 2014
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More than half of the national transplant waiting list is made up of multicultural populations. That’s because some diseases of the kidney, heart, lung, pancreas and liver that are best treated through transplantation are found more frequently in these populations. For example, African Americans and other minorities are three times more likely to suffer from end-stage renal disease than Caucasians.
Although it is possible for a candidate to match a donor from another racial or ethnic group, transplant success rates increase when organs are matched between members of the same ethnic background. Consequently, a lack of organs donated by multicultural populations can contribute to longer waiting periods for transplantation.
Unfortunately like with most things in life there is a lot or wrong or misinformation about organ donation. Listed here are some of the most popular myths concerning donation.
If I am in an accident, and the hospital knows I want to be a donor, they will withhold treatment and not attempt to save my life.
FACT: Medical professionals will do EVERYTHING they can to save your life. The doctors who work to save your life are not the same doctors involved with donation. It is only after every attempt has been made to save your life that donation will be considered. In fact, from a medical standpoint, patients must receive the most aggressive life-saving care in order to be potential organ, tissue and eye donors.
I worry they’ll take out my organs before I’m dead.
FACT: Organ, tissue and eye donation follows the declaration of death by a doctor not involved in transplantation. In Florida, two licensed physicians must make the diagnosis of brain death before the potential donor’s family is consulted regarding organ donation.
Only famous or wealthy people get organ transplants.
FACT: The United Network for Organ Sharing monitors the national transplant waiting list, which contains specific medical criteria for each patient in need. Criteria include height, weight and blood group. Priority depends on medical factors, including urgency of need, length of time on the waiting list, blood type and organ size compatibility. Factors such as race, gender, income or celebrity status are never considered when determining who receives an organ.
My religion does not support organ, tissue and eye donation.
FACT: All major eastern and western religions either fully endorse donation as an act of human benevolence in keeping with religious doctrine, or leave the decision up to the individual. No major religion opposes organ, tissue and eye donation. If you have questions regarding your faith’s position on organ, tissue and eye donation, we encourage you to consult with your religious leader.
I can’t be a donor because I want an open casket funeral.
FACT: The organ donation operation is done under surgical, sterile conditions in an operating room. The body will be treated with respect and reverence. The donation of organs, tissue or eyes will not disfigure the body or interfere with an open casket funeral should you desire one.
Donation will be costly to my family.
FACT: Costs related to organ, tissue and eye donation will be covered by the donor programs. You will not be financially responsible for any aspect of the donation process. However, medical care up to the point of donation, funeral arrangements and costs remain the responsibility of the relatives or persons in charge of the estate.
No one will want my organs because of my medical history. Besides, I’m too old to be a donor.
FACT: Everyone, regardless of their age or medical condition, is urged to register to be an organ donor. At the time of death, medical professionals will determine a person’s eligibility to become an organ, tissue and eye donor. Even cancer patients can potentially donate, and there are cases of organ donors in their mid-seventies and older.
If I donate my loved one’s organs and tissues, the recipient will know who I am.
FACT: The identity of all parties is kept confidential. The donor family and the transplant recipient may receive such information as age, sex and state of residence. Individually, the recipient may be told the circumstances of death, and the donor’s family may be informed of the transplants that were performed. They may also receive feedback on how the recipient’s health status has improved. The donation agencies facilitate correspondence and meetings initiated by either the donor family or recipient.
How to Register to Become an Organ Donor
Registering to save lives is easy. You can do it 24/7 at www.donatelife.net. You can also register when renewing your driver license or State ID card. If you are not able to sign up online or while obtaining your license you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will mail you a form to fill out and mail back to the state registry. Please be sure to inform your loved ones about your decision and encourage them to register also.