Everyone knows that February 14th is Valentine’s Day. But, did you also know that is National Donor Day?
National Donor Day was established in 1998 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Saturn Corporation and its United Auto Workers, to encourage all Americans to register as tissue and organ donors. In the past 15 years, millions of people have signed up to be donors, but the number of people needing transplants and the number of organs donated, still leave many patients dying while waiting on the transplant list.
People of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities and medical histories can be donors. Medical officials will decide, at the time of death, if organs are viable for transplantation. Once organs become available, criteria such as blood and tissue match-up, geographic location and time on the waiting list, determines the organ recipient. There is no cost to become an organ donor.
There are many vital organs subject to this process, including heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, intestine, and pancreas. Tissue that is recoverable includes corneas, bone, skin, heart valves, as well as tendons and veins. According to the DCI Donor Services, of the nearly 120,00 patients on the transplant list, 58% are minorities and represent approximately 34% of those donating. As of 2016, of the 98,000 people nationwide waiting for kidneys, 34% are African American, 20% are Hispanic and 7% are Asians. According to the data released by United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), because the minority population continues to grow and currently makes up approximately 20% of the U.S. population, the need for minority donors are expected to grow as well. The best matches between donors and recipients often lie in the genetic makeup between members of the same race. The Caucasian population accounts for 66% of those donating organs, compared to just 16% of African Americans and 13% of Hispanics. Members of the population that identify as Asian are the lowest rate of donors, at only two percent.
Should you have a medical condition such as cancer, diabetes, or heart disease, you aren’t precluded from being a donor. With recent advances in transplantations, more people than ever can donate. Careful testing of organs and tissue is done after a person passes away to determine which may be safely donated. The only donors that might not be eligible for donating are those with certain types of blood or eye cancers.
Surgical techniques used to retrieve organs and tissue are done in such a manner that only family members will know a donation has taken place, thus alleviating concerns for those that want an open casket funeral. According to research done by UNOS, all major religions support donations as charitable acts of love and giving. However, consulting with your personal spiritual advisor may put your mind at rest regarding donating.
According to the Organ Procurement and Transportation Network (OPTN), every ten minutes, someone is added to the national transplant waiting list. On average, 22 people die each day while waiting for a transplant.
Becoming an organ donor is a very simple process:
- Register with your state’s Organ Donor Registry.
- Select ‘Yes’ to organ donation when you apply for your driver’s license.
- Sign a donor card, if required.
At DeRosa Medical, this Valentine’s Day, we encourage everyone to demonstrate a true act of love. Become an organ donor and bring hope and the gift of life of up to eight lives or save or heal more than 75 lives through tissue and eye donation.