Recap of ‘Donate Life’ Month
Guest Blogger: Harper Mac
In a recent proclamation, President Barack Obama named April 2012 as National Donate
Life Month. In doing so, he brought attention to the great need for organ donors. There are currently more than 114,000 people on organ transplant waiting lists. While many people have chosen to donate vital organs upon their deaths, many more are still needed, making this a timely announcement.
Growing Need for Suitable Donors
In late 2011, there were 100 million donors registered to give their organs to people on the waiting list upon their deaths. This number surpasses the number of people on the waiting list. However, the complication in finding successful organs lies in the matching process, which determines transplant compatibility. The more people who donate their organs, the greater the chance of finding a match during this arduous process.
Many people are hesitant to donate organs because they believe they may be too old. Additionally, individuals with certain illnesses may not realize they can still donate. Even if a person has one organ that is not usable, he or she may have several other organs from which someone else can benefit. Medics are not just looking for major organs like the heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas and liver; they also have people on waiting lists that could use skin, veins, tendons, heart valves and bone marrow. One donor can potentially save the lives of eight people.
Getting on the List
In addition to the national and state donor programs, there are donor networks that have added a twist to this process. LifeSharers is a newly-developed network of organ donors. LifeSharers works on a give-and-take basis. People who agreed to donate their organs will receive organs first before people who have not donated. The creation of this network was an excellent idea to give some incentive to people who have not yet decided to participate. Life is something that should be shared. Therefore, anyone who wants to save his or her life should be willing to save someone else’s life as well.
Events that Highlight Need
IU Health and Riley Hospital for Children held a ceremony earlier this month in Indianapolis to congratulate and thank the many people who have donated their organs to people in need. Together, IU Health and Riley Hospital have performed more than 500 organ transplants since the 2010, making them the fourth-largest transplant center in the U.S. In addition to thanking donors, the ceremony was intended to encourage people who have not joined donor lists to do so.
In addition to National Donate Life Month, Donate Life America will continue to raise awareness by naming August 1st as National Minority Donor Awareness Day, September 15-October 15 as National Hispanic Heritage Month—used to celebrate and honor organ, eye, and tissue donations made by Hispanics and to encourage more Hispanics to donate—and the National Donor Sabbath, observed two weekends before Thanksgiving, during which members of faith communities are encouraged to focus on the hope that is passed to others through organ donation and educate their congregants about this issue.
For those waiting patiently to receive a life-saving organ transplant, the days and nights of waiting can seem never-ending and wearisome. Thanks to advances in science, this doesn’t have to be the case. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming an organ, tissue or blood donor, contact a donor program right away.
About the Author
Lindsey Harper Mac is a writer and editor living in Indianapolis. She writes on behalf of Colorado Technical University.