While much of the world is celebrating Valentine’s Day this February 14, it’s important to take some time to observe another event about giving one’s heart away. February 14 is National Organ Donor Day.
Organ donation is a lifesaving medical procedure that removes healthy organs from a donor and transplants them into a recipient who is in need of the organ due to some kind of illness. Donor organs can come from living donors or from a donor who has recently passed away. In both cases, the donor must provide their consent for the procedure to occur. The United States Department of Health Human Services reports that 95% of adult individuals support organ donation, but only 48% of eligible individuals are registered organ donors.
The US DHHS reports that almost 200,000 people are on the waiting list for a transplant. The individuals on the waiting list include men, women, and children who are in need of a lifesaving donation. The report continues by indicating that 22 people die each day waiting for a transplant. In conjunction with the low number of eligible donors who are registered, only 0.003% (3 in 1,000) individuals die in a way that is suitable for organ donation. In order to increase the number of people who receive donations needed to save lives, it is important to increase the number of donors that are registered across the world.
There are many different organs and tissues that can be donated. Some organs and tissues can be donated while the donor is still alive, including kidneys, stem cells, and bone marrow. Other organs are only viable for transplantation when the donor is deceased. The most commonly donated organs and tissues include: heart, both lungs, both kidneys, liver, pancreas, intestines, stem cells, peripheral blood stem cells, bone marrow, blood vessels, skin, bones, and heart valves. It is averaged that one donor can have the potential to save 8 lives with major organ donation and impact the lives of at least 50 others with tissue or cell donation.
The method of registration varies from one state to the next, though most states allow individuals to register to be organ donors at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Some states, like North Carolina, have websites dedicated to registering to be an organ donor. More information regarding registration can be found at the US DHHS website: www.organdonor.gov/register.html