As your heart fills with love on Valentine’s Day, it’s important to remember that it’s also National Organ Donor Day—a time to celebrate the life-saving gift of organ donation. Sadly, kids and adults die every day as they wait for an organ transplant. And every nine minutes, someone is added to the transplant list. By becoming a donor, you can help save or improve the lives of individuals in need of a transplant.
If you haven’t thought about becoming an organ donor, it can help to understand and dispel common misconceptions about the process. Here we share answers from the U.S. Government’s Health Resources and Services Administration to some of the most commonly asked questions:
Who can become an organ donor?
In the U.S., all adults can sign up. Some states allow people under the age of 18 to indicate a commitment as well. However, their parent or guardian's authorization is usually required at the time of their death.
What organs and tissues can be donated?
You can currently donate eight organs, including your heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver, and intestines. You can also donate your corneas, skin, heart valves, bone, blood vessels, and connective tissue, as well as bone marrow, stem cells, umbilical cord blood, and peripheral blood stem cells.
If you have a medical condition, can you still donate?
In many cases, yes. Even if you have a chronic illness, you may be able to donate some organs or tissues. At the time of your death, a transplant team will determine what can be used to help someone else. Even donating just one organ could improve or save someone else’s life.
How many lives can a single donor save?
More than you may think. By donating your organs, you can save up to eight lives. By donating your corneas, you can restore eyesight to two people. And by giving tissue, you can help heal as many as 75 individuals. If you’ve ever wanted to leave a positive legacy, there are fewer things you can do that will make such a difference in helping others regain vital functions.
Do you have to die to be a donor?
While it’s true that most organ donations happen after the donor dies, you can also make a living donation. For example, you can give an organ, such as a kidney, or part of an organ, like your liver, to someone in need. You can also donate bone marrow to help assist someone’s journey back to wellness.
Does being a registered donor affect the medical care you receive?
No! The work and goals of medical and transplant teams are separate. A medical team will make every effort to save a life before considering the possibility of organ donation.
How do you let your intentions be known?
In some cases, your desire to become an organ donor can be declared on your driver’s license or state identification card. However, you may to do more to ensure that your wishes are carried out. Talk to your family and let them know you wish to donate your organs. Also, consider putting it in writing – your intention to be an organ donor can and should be clearly spelled out in your healthcare proxy, assuming you have one.
Have more questions? Visit the U.S. government’s website OrganDonor.gov, which offers plenty of information that can help with your decision. And, if you’re considering a rewarding career in healthcare, where you can help patients and donors alike, Fortis can help put you on the path with our nursing programs. Click here for more information or call us today at (855) 436-7847 and speak to one of our career counselors.