Becoming an organ donor is the single best action someone can take to be remembered after passing. In the United States about 1 person out of 4 is a registered organ donor with their state. In reality, more people may be willing to sign that card but they don’t do it due to a lack of time, motivation or whatever else. Even if they do, sometimes they don’t talk about it to their family so when time comes to donate those organs, the family refuses because they are not sure it is the right thing to do. Signing the organ donation card for your state registry is the first step toward becoming an organ donor. You also need to talk about it with your family. Some organ procurement organizations (OPO) have decided not to force family to accept donation after the death of their loved ones even if the signing of the card binds the potential donor legally. They have chosen not to use confrontation. So, it is very important that you talk about that with your family so they can honor your wishes.
Organ donation by the numbers.
There are over 110,000 people waiting for an organ (heart transplant, liver transplant, kidney transplant, lung transplant, pancreas transplant, etc.) in this country. Out of those just about 72,000 are actively listed meaning that the other 38,000 are either too sick at this time (infection or other), do not fully meet criteria (need to lose weight) or have new health issues that just popped up. Waiting lists are growing faster than patients can be transplanted. The waiting list went from 18,000 names in 1989 to more than 110,000 today which is more than a 500% increase. During the same time period the number of organ transplants went from 13,000 to 28,000, a 110% increase only. The number of donors, including living donors, went from 6,000 in 1989 to 14,000 in 2010, again 110% or so. The main reason for the increase in donors is the widespread use of living donors especially for kidney transplant. The number of living donor is almost equal to the number of deceased donors.
Ways to increase number of organ donor.
It used to be a time where only pristine donors were used with strict criteria. A donor in his 50’s was considered too old. Nowadays 65 is the new 50. It is not uncommon these days to see 60 years old plus organs being used and for the most part they work just as well, for a while anyway. Transplant physicians are considering using, on a routine basis, organs of donors up to 70 years old in good health. This is called extended criteria donor. Lungs from smokers are also used in lung transplantation. If they were not, you could eliminate about 50-60 percent of the lung transplant surgeries since there would be less lungs available. All those measure are meant to increase the pool of potential organ donors.
Why become an organ donor?
Because it is the right thing to do.
Once you die you do not need those organs anymore. If they are still good to be used, have someone else enjoy them. Who knows, you may be the one that needs an organ transplant later on in life and wish that more people had signed their card. Did you know that your family could do a direct donation on your behalf if they happen to know someone that needs an organ transplant? Even if the recipient is not on top on the list, you can direct the organ to that one person. Be cool, be an organ donor.