In America, there currently are more than 119,000 men, women, and children
waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant.
National Donate Life Month. Established in 2003 by the United States Department of Health and Human
Services, National Donate Life Month is designed to raise awareness regarding
the urgent need for organ donations and to recognize the generosity of
those who have saved lives by becoming organ donors. ATRIO Health Plans
thinks it’s also an ideal time to debunk many of the myths surrounding
the subject of organ donation.
As a starting point, consider these startling statistics regarding the
need for—and the benefits of—organ donations:
- Another person is added to the nation's organ transplant waiting list
every 10 minutes.
- About 8,000 people die annually—which equates to almost one person
per hour—while waiting for an organ transplant.
- More than 1.75 million tissue transplants are performed each year, and
the medical demand for tissue has been steadily increasing.
- A single tissue donor can help more than 75 people.
- Last year alone, 36,500 transplants gave patients a new lease on life.
- Each year, some 48,000 people have their sight restored through corneal
Organ Donation Misconceptions
The shortage of organs available for transplantation is due, in part, to
misconceptions about organ donation. Donate Life America—which is
a nonprofit alliance of national organizations and state teams committed
to increasing organ, eye, and tissue donation—shares the following facts:
- Anyone potentially can be a donor regardless of age, race, or medical history.
- All major U.S. religions support organ, eye, and tissue donation and view
such donations as an act of generosity toward others.
- If you are sick or injured and admitted to a hospital, the number-one priority
is preserving your life; organ, eye, and tissue donation can only be considered
once you are deceased.
- Organ, eye, and tissue donors can have open-casket funerals.
- There is no cost to the donor—or to his/her family—for organ,
eye, or tissue donations.
- When patients are on the waiting list to receive an organ transplant, the
decision to proceed with the transplant is driven by the severity of their
illness, length of time on the list, blood type, and other important medical
criteria; income level or celebrity status is never considered.
- Some contend that health-care providers encourage organ donations because
they can then sell organs and reap financial gain; not only is this untrue,
but it’s unlawful. The National Organ Transplant Act (Public Law
95-507) makes it illegal to sell human organs and tissues in the United States.
- A donor who is deceased can donate kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs, heart,
intestines, corneas, skin, tendons, bone, and heart valves.
- A living donor can donate one kidney, as well as a portion of the liver,
lungs, intestines, or pancreas.
Steps to Becoming a Donor
For those interested in becoming donors, Donate Life America recommends
taking these steps:
- Put your decision to be a donor in writing.
- Inform family members of your desire to be a donor.