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Top 6 Reasons to Become an Organ Donor

Top 6 Reasons to Become an Organ Donor

Unless you’ve been directly affected by it, you may not have given much thought to the organ donation process. Thinking about organ donation usually means thinking about your own mortality, which can be an uncomfortable topic for many. However, if you or a loved one is on a transplant waiting list or has been the recipient of an organ donation, you likely already understand the amazing gift of organ donation.

You can donate some organs while you are still on this earth. Others can only be donated after you have passed from this earth. Regardless of the type of organ donated, becoming an organ donor is a way to help your fellow community, extend your legacy, and positively influence the world you will eventually leave behind. At Lompoc Valley Medical Center, we believe in fostering a sense of health and well-being in all our patients. We also aim to practice generosity and inspire a culture of unparalleled altruism. In honor of April’s status as National Donate Life Month, here is what you need to know about organ donation and the top six reasons to become an organ donor.

What is National Donate Life Month?

Each April, Donate Life America recognizes National Donate Life Month as a way to draw attention to the fantastic capacity of both living and deceased donors to enrich the lives of others through organ, eye, and tissue donation. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of this critical health holiday, which began in 2003. This year’s Donate Life Month theme is frogs on a lily pad in a pond, representing how the natural world comes back to life in the spring. The symbolism is important because frogs represent healing, and water lilies represent hope.

What is the need for organ donors in the US?

There is a significant need for organ donors in the US. According to organ donation statistics, 104,234 people, including children, are on the national transplant waiting list. Every 10 minutes, another person is added to this waiting list. And unfortunately, each day, 17 people on this list die as they wait for a life-saving transplant.

The most common organs that are needed are the kidneys, followed by the liver. Kidney transplants are also the most common type of transplant, with more than 25,000 kidney transplants performed in a recent year.

What are the top 6 reasons to become an organ donor?

Becoming an organ donor is a noble and generous way to celebrate the unique capacity of your physical body to share health and give life. In fact, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), every donor can save eight lives and enhance more than 75 more lives.

It’s hard to argue with the impressiveness of becoming an organ donor. Surveys show that 90% of US adults support the process of organ donation. Unfortunately, only about 60% of adults are registered organ donors. Of these 170 million registered organ donors, only 3 in 1,000 will die in a way that allows them to become organ donors, which is why it’s so crucial for people to sign up to be donors.

If you need a little nudge to motivate yourself to get on the organ donor registry, check out the top 6 reasons to become an organ donor.

Reason #1: You can give someone the gift of sight

One of the most remarkable ways that you can give back is to restore someone’s vision. If you are a cornea donor, you can restore sight to up to two people. Corneal transplantation occurs from a deceased donor. Your cornea is the window in the front of your eye that receives light and passes it through to the back of your eye where your retina interprets it. Corneas can become damaged (and vision can become impaired) through many medical conditions, including trauma, infection, and degeneration. There are 12 million people worldwide are blind due to a condition with their cornea. A cornea transplant can help restore vision, reduce pain, and also improve the appearance of someone’s eye. Since the process of cornea donation began, more than two million people have had their vision restored and, according to the Eye Bank Association of America, more than 85,000 cornea transplants are conducted annually.

Reason #2: You can give someone the gift of a heartbeat

There are more than 4,000 people in the US alone who are waiting for a heart transplant. Heart transplants are needed for some people with heart conditions such as heart failure, valvular heart disease, or congenital heart disease (a heart defect present at birth). Without the transplant, many people with these conditions will not be able to survive long-term. Heart donations come from a deceased donor. For a heart donation to occur, a recipient must be close geographically, have an immediate need, and be a blood type match and body size match. When these factors come together, the miraculous process of transplantation kicks into high gear because heart transplants must occur within 4 to 6 hours. After receiving a heart transplant, people can have a complete turnaround in their quality of life, going from becoming breathless after walking just a few steps to being able to live a normal, active life.

Reason #3: You can give someone the gift of breath

Lung transplants come from a deceased donor. When a person with chronic lung disease receives a new lung, it can quite literally give them back the gift of breath. Unfortunately, there is a big need for lung transplants in the US, with demand outpacing supply. In a recent year, there were 2,759 lung transplants performed in the US, but there were 3,243 new people added to the lung transplant waiting list. Most people who are waiting for a new lung are between the ages of 50 and 64 years old.

Reason #4: You can give someone the gift of a functioning kidney (and coming off dialysis)

The grand majority of people who are on the waiting list for a lifesaving organ transplant require a kidney. While awaiting a kidney, many people endure the grueling process of dialysis, which helps support failing kidneys. Dialysis can continue for many years while people wait for a transplant. In fact, according to the National Kidney Foundation, the median wait time for a kidney transplant is 3.6 years. Kidney donations can occur from either living or deceased donors, though kidneys from living donors tend to last longer and are less likely to fail. As a living donor, you may feel compelled to donate a kidney to someone who is a close relative in need of a kidney, or otherwise. After a person receives a kidney transplant, they will have regular follow-up appointments to make sure that the kidney is working properly, but they will no longer need to be on dialysis.

Reason #5: You can give someone the gift of a functioning liver

Livers represent the second most needed type of organ. Your liver is a vital organ that helps detoxify and metabolize chemicals, break down and store fat, and produce special factors for your blood. Liver disease can take a big toll on your quality of life, causing problems such as swelling, problems with thinking, and problems with breathing. In the US, 17,000 people are waiting for a liver transplant, but only 5,000 liver transplants occur each year. Liver donation used to be possible exclusively through a deceased donor transplant. However, amazingly, living donor transplantations are now possible, thanks to advances in medical science. A person with a healthy liver only needs a part of their liver, so in a living donor transplant, a portion of the donor's liver is transplanted to someone else. Another amazing thing about liver donation is that it’s never too late to become an organ donor. In fact, according to a report by HRSA, a 95-year-old successfully donated a liver to another person.

Reason #6: You can enrich someone else’s life and also enrich your own

Becoming an organ or tissue donor can unquestionably enrich someone else’s life. However, you may also find that giving as a living donor enriches your own life. Some living donors even report improved quality of life after kidney donation. To sign up to be an organ donor, make sure to visit this website. You can also select the organ donation option when registering for a driver’s license at your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

How to learn more about organ donation

At Lompoc Valley Medical Center, we support our patients across the spectrum of the organ donation process, from patients with chronic terminal illnesses who are awaiting a transplant, to the people who love and support them, to the people considering becoming a living donor or donating their organs as part of their end-of-life-wishes.

To learn more about organ donation, or to inquire about becoming a donor or becoming eligible for a transplant waiting list, make sure to make an appointment with one of our healthcare providers today.