Organ donations are and will continue to be a growing need. Over the past 10 years, the number of people who need transplants has grown from 80,000 to more than 120,000. The number of donors remains roughly the same – 15,000.
In a state the size of Wisconsin, there are more than 2,000 people waiting for an organ transplant. Around the country, an average of 79 people get a transplant every day, while an average of 21 die because they weren't able to get the organ they needed to stay alive.
If you've thought about becoming an organ donor but have concerns about it, read this blog article. It discusses the most common myths people have about being an organ donor and what you should know about each.
There are many great reasons to be an organ and tissue donor. Below are three you should keep in mind when you make the decision to donate or not.
1. You can save or improve people’s lives
Donors can give their kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs, heart, and intestines and save as many as eight people’s lives. Eye, cornea, and tissue donations can improve the lives of dozens of people. Eyes can be transplanted to help a blind person see again; skin can be transplanted to help someone with severe burns; tendons can be transplanted to help a person’s mobility; and more.
Donors are usually no longer living when they donate their organs. But donations of certain organs and tissue can happen while the donor's alive.
(Note: Living donation isn’t the topic of this article. But here’s more information about it if you’re interested.)
2. Your donation can help a person who lives in your area – maybe even someone you know
In most instances, your organ donation stays local. Transplant centers work to provide organs to people based on general criteria.
The country is divided into 11 geographic regions, and except for perfect kidney matches or very sick patients who need livers, local recipients take first priority. Seventy-five percent of organs go to local people.
Each of the 11 regions is a part of The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). UNOS is a private, non-profit organization that manages the national transplant waiting list.
3. It’s easy to register and it doesn’t cost you anything
Donate Life America, a not-for-profit alliance of national organizations and state teams committed to increasing the number of organ, eye, and tissue donation, says 90 percent of Americans say they support donation, but only 30 percent know the essential steps to take to be a donor.
If you’re 18 years of age or older, you can sign up with your state’s organ and tissue donor registry. See where you can sign up. People under the age of 18 can donate too if they have their parents’ permission.
Additionally, you can register at your Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) when you get or renew your driver’s license.
At the time you register, you can designate specific organs or tissue you want to donate, if you don’t want to donate everything. After signing up, you can remove your name from the registry at any time.
Registering and donating is completely free. The costs are part of the recipient’s medical expenses.