Fear, discomfort, misunderstanding – there are so many reasons people put off becoming an organ donor. While the thought of donating your organs is admittedly scary, there are so many better reasons to make today the day you sign up. Like the fact that today is National Donor Day!
While February 14th is more known for candy hearts than beating ones, there’s no better way to spread some love than by becoming an organ donor. There are currently more than 3,000 people in the United States waiting for a real heart to save their lives, and many of them will die before receiving a transplant. Plus, being a donor doesn’t always mean waiting until you die to make a difference – you can donate blood, marrow, platelets, and even certain organs while still very much alive!
Still uncertain? Let’s take a dive into some interesting details about organ donation.
Why is Organ Donation Important?
There are more than 100,000 people in the United States currently waiting for an organ transplant, and only 39,000 transplants were performed in 2020. It is estimated that nearly 20 people die every day due to a lack of organ donors, even though one person can donate up to eight lifesaving organs.
Many people think of major organs like the heart, lungs, and kidneys when it comes to organ donation, but there are many other ways becoming an organ donor can save lives. Organ donation can also include other organs like the liver or pancreas, corneas, various tissues, blood, bone marrow, and more.
You don’t even have to die to be a donor – nearly 4 in 10 annual donations are done with living donors! As a living donor, you can help save a life through several beneficial donations:
- One of your kidneys
- A lobe of your liver
- A portion of your lung, pancreas, or intestines
- Blood, Platelets, or Bone Marrow
- Tissues like skin, bone, or healthy cells
While there are inherent risks with any surgery or donation, most donors and recipients go on to live healthy, happy lives for many years after a successful living donation.
How To Become an Organ Donor
People of all ages and medical conditions can register as an organ donor, and there are multiple ways to sign up. The National Donor Registry is managed by Donate Life America, and you can register on their website in just a few minutes. There are also specific donor registrations for each state, and most offer easy online registration options.
One of the easiest ways to declare your intention as an organ donor is to register when you renew your driver’s license. If you check “Yes” in the Organ Donation box, your license will reflect your choice and your information will be forwarded to your state registry.
To become a living donor for someone you know, contact their transplant center for more information. To become a living donor, contact a living donor transplant program in your area. You will need to undergo rigorous medical and psychological testing to ensure you’re a good candidate for living donation.