Giving Back in Multiple Ways (Organ + Whole Body Donation)
With all of the advancements in medical science and technology today, the demand for organ, eye and tissue donation continues to exceed the number of acceptable donors.
It is estimated that there are more than 123,000 people in the U.S. in need of lifesaving organ transplants. Every day, an average of 79 people receive organ transplants and an average of 22 people die waiting for transplants.
Currently in the U.S., 120 million people are registered organ donors. With so many people registered, why are there still more than 123,000 patients awaiting transplants?
There are a variety of reasons that may prohibit a registered organ donor from being a candidate for donation. Medical suitability is determined at time of death and many potential donors are ruled out as candidates due to conditions such as cancer, heart disease, lung disease, kidney or liver disease, etc. In fact, it is estimated that less than one percent of hospital deaths meet the criteria for organ donation.
Other conditions, such as having HIV, hepatitis and other viruses or severe infection which may be determined to be a risk for the patient, could also exclude organ donation.
In the case of death by injury, sometimes the organs are too damaged by either the original injury, or by the problems caused by the injury, for them to be used in other people.
Sometimes the donor’s condition changes suddenly, such as might happen if the donor’s blood pressure unexpectedly plummets, and the donation cannot occur quickly enough for the organs to remain viable.
Each organ procurement organization is unique in its criteria for acceptance.
The good news is that even if you are not a good candidate for organ donation you will most likely be an excellent candidate for whole body donation for medical research and training. With whole body donation, criteria is often much broader and the timelines for donation are longer.
If you’re already an organ donor and wish to have the option to donate your body to science as well, simply let your loved ones know of your wishes. The Science Care Donor Services Coordinators will collaborate with the local transplant group to help facilitate both types of donation.
To donate your organs after death, you can either register with your state’s donor registry (visit OrganDonor.gov), or fill out an organ donor card when you get or renew your driver’s license.