The Boyertown Area Times
Each of us has chance to offer the gift of life
Each year in April groups that coordinate organ donation programs collaborate with allies to remind people of their role in addressing a true life-and-death situation.
Yet despite decades of advocacy on this issue and the cooperation of the state to make organ donation as easy as checking a box on a driver’s license form, the need persists. Each day, 17 people in the U.S. die while waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant, according to the Gift of Life Donor Program, which serves hospitals and transplant centers in eastern Pennsylvania.
Gift of Life reports that there are more than 100,000 people waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant in the United States, and every 10 minutes another person’s name is added to the list. There are more than 5,000 in need of an organ transplant just in the three-state region that Gift of Life serves. Thousands of others could benefit from life-enhancing tissue transplants.
With all that in mind, it’s imperative that folks pay attention during National Donate Life Month and heed the call to help.
One organ donor can save up to eight lives. A tissue donor can improve the lives of more than 100 others. An organ donor can donate kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs, heart and intestines. Tissue donation includes bone donations to repair fractures and prevent amputations, skin to heal burn patients and heart valve donations to repair life-threatening defects. Cornea donation can give the gift of sight to two recipients.
Even though 95% of people surveyed in the U.S. support organ donation, the organ donor registration rate is below 50% in most states including Pennsylvania, according to the Gift of Life program.
We applaud the efforts to raise awareness, including today’s 26th annual Donor Dash in Philadelphia. Thousands will head to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to run or walk to support the cause. Among them will be living examples of the power of organ donations.
Since 1974, Gift of Life has coordinated more than 58,000 organs for transplant, and more than 2 million tissue transplants have resulted from the generosity of donors and their families.
Testimonials offered by the
Gift of Life program emphasize the sacrifice and grace of donor families who make decisions to save others’ loved ones in times of their own heartbreaking loss. Stories of recipients include those of children who go on from childhood health defects to live full lives and adults — fathers, mothers, daughters, sons — who are able to enjoy extra decades of life due to transplanted organs.
As part of April’s National Donate Life Month campaign, the Gift of Life program reminds those who support organ donation to take actions that prepare:
• Sign up to become a donor. Everyone can register regardless of age or medical history. Go to donors1.org.
• Share the decision. It takes a team to save the lives of every person on the waitlist, and that includes family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues.
• Learn more. Explore the website at donors1.org to discover facts versus myths about donation and much more.
• Connect with Gift of Life on social media. Donor families, transplant recipients, living donors and advocates share inspiring stories via Gift of Life on Facebook, and @donors1 on Instagram and Twitter.
• Continue the tradition. For the 15th consecutive year, the region Gift of Life serves led the nation in organ donors, with lifesaving gifts from 690 people in 2022. Those donations resulted in 1,744 transplants, the most in the U.S. Kidneys are in the highest demand, and Gift of Life coordinated 1,017 such transplants last year. Those are impressive numbers, but imagine what could be accomplished if most eligible people signed up to be organ donors. It takes thoughtful decisions by individuals to make that happen.
It’s tough to think about the type of tragedy that would necessitate the decision to donate a loved one’s organs. But being prepared for such a scenario can make all the difference for people on waitlists and their own life-and-death scenarios. Discuss the issue now to ease the uncertainty and embrace the possibility of saving someone’s life.