Valentine’s Day! Yes, I missed it — both personally (sorry, Naomi) and professionally. You see, Valentine’s Day is also National Organ Donor Day. So, this year, I am determined to
and spread the word about the life-giving power of organ and tissue donations!According to Personalized Cause, just one donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation and save or heal more than 75 lives through eye and tissue donation.
There are two types of organ/tissue donations.
Living donation is when you donate blood, platelets or bone marrow while you are alive, and can usually be done with little discomfort or inconvenience. As a living donor, you can also donate one kidney, one lung or a portion of your liver, pancreas or intestine. Donating an organ as a living donor is a major decision because it carries with it the risk of any major surgery that must be weighed against the life-giving possibilities for the recipient.
Deceased donation occurs once a person is declared dead. When a person is brought to the hospital because of an illness or accident such as a severe head trauma, brain aneurysm or stroke and, if the person is identified as a potential organ donor and the injury or illness is too severe and the person dies, it is at this point that the process of organ donation goes into effect.
When I think about organ donation, what comes to mind are kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and intestines. I have since learned that one can donate many other parts of the body, including (according to organdonor.gov):
Hands can be transplanted to restore the ability to perform daily tasks.
Face transplants can improve the ability to breathe, speak, swallow, smile and show other emotions.
Heart valves can be transplanted to save the lives of children born with heart defects and adults with damaged heart valves.
Skin can be used as a natural dressing for people with serious burns. It can even save lives by stopping infections.
Bone is important for people receiving artificial joint replacements or replacing bone that has been removed due to illness or injury.
Tendons, the elastic-like cords that attach bones and muscles to each other, can be donated to help rebuild damaged joints.
Eyes (both the cornea and the sclera or white part of the eye) can be used. More than 95% of all corneal transplants are successful in restoring the recipient’s vision and the sclera is used to rebuild the eye.
Other tissues include the middle ear, veins, cartilage and ligaments (Business Manager Diane had the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) replaced in her knee from such a donation).
Who can be a deceased donor? Everyone can be a potential donor regardless of race, ethnicity, age or overall health. No one is too old or too young to be a deceased donor. Newborns and senior citizens into their 90’s have been organ donors. According to organdonor.gov, the health of your organs is more important than age and that will be determined at the time of death.
Even with an illness or a health condition, people may be able to donate organs and/or tissues. Before doing some research, I assumed that I would not be a good donor candidate because of a long-past cancer history. I have since learned that my assumptions were wrong.
Only a few conditions would absolutely prevent a person from becoming a donor — click here for more information.
Another incorrect assumption is that only those over the age of 18 can be a donor — click here for more information about pediatric donation.
However, being registered as an organ donor is only half of the process. It is important to discuss your decision with your family to help to ease their minds during an emotionally charged and difficult time.
Are you registered as an organ donor? It only takes a moment. Make todayyour Valentine’s Day. Think about the number of people whose lives you could change. Register here to become an organ and tissue donor in your state.