4/23/2013 10:28:00 AM Guest column: Save a life through organ donation
Flagstaff Medical Center's Mountain Medicine
For many, organ donation is an opportunity to turn tragedy into life. Choosing organ donation often brings a sense of peace to the loved ones of someone who dies suddenly.
During the month of April, Donor Network of Arizona (DNA) and hospitals across the state will celebrate National Donate Life Month. Throughout the month, DNA and Arizona hospitals will work together to educate people about organ and tissue donation and to encourage them to register as donors.
Need for organ/tissue donation
The need for organ and tissue donation continues to grow despite medical advances. According to DNA:
More than 116,000 men, women and children in the U.S. currently need life-saving organ transplants.
More than 2,300 people in Arizona need a transplant.
Every 11 minutes another name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list.
Each day, 18 people die from the lack of available organs for transplant.
More than 90 percent of Americans say they support donation, but only 30 percent know the essential steps to take to be a donor.
When people register as organ donors, they have given consent to donate their organs after their death to save the lives of others. Deceased registered donors can give their kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs, heart and small intestine.
When people register as tissue donors, they have given their consent to donate their tissue after their death to heal the lives of others. Tissue such as skin, bone and heart valves can heal - and even save - the lives of recipients. Tissues such as corneas can give others sight. The cornea is the clear, thin layer covering the front of the eye. The cornea enables light to pass through to the retina, allowing sight.
Successful transplantation often is enhanced by the matching of organs between members of the same ethnic and racial group. For example, any patient is less likely to reject a kidney if it is donated by an individual who is genetically similar. Generally, people are genetically more similar to people of their own ethnicity or race than to people of other races. Cross-racial donations can and do happen with great success. However, a shortage of organs donated by minorities can contribute to death and longer waiting periods for transplants for minorities.
Talking about donation to your family
After registering as organ and tissue donors in Arizona, it is important for registered donors to talk with family members about this decision. Talking with family members helps them understand their loved one's end-of-life decisions. This helps avoid the family learning of this end-of-life decision at the time of death of their loved one.
How to register to be an organ and/or tissue donor
Arizonans can check a box to sign up to become registered organ and tissue donors when they apply for or renew their driver's license or state ID at the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD). They can also sign up online at www.DonateLifeAZ.org or call 1-800-94-DONOR.