When you think about February 14, you probably think of Valentine’s Day. But the date also marks another occasion—National Donor Day. Do you know the facts about organ donation?
The numbers are pretty staggering. Each day, 17 people die while waiting for an organ transplant of some type. Every nine minutes, someone new is added to the waiting list. More than 2,000 people in Louisiana alone are on a waiting list.
But the impact organ donation can have is equally staggering—one donor can save up to eight lives and make an impact on 75 others.
Organ Donation Facts: Who Can Be an Organ Donor?
In the United States, you can sign up as an organ donor beginning at age 18. With parental consent, those younger than age 18 can also be organ donors.
Even if you aren’t in the best health, you can still sign up for organ donation. Doctors make a medical determination about whether organs are usable at the time of a person’s death.
Signing up for organ donation is easy. In Louisiana, you can sign up online, or you can also register as an organ donor when obtaining a driver’s license or visiting the motor vehicle office for another reason. In Mississippi, you can also sign up online.
Organ Donation Facts: What Organs Can Be Donated?
When you sign up as an organ donor, organs aren’t the only body part you may be donating.
Along with eight vital organs, organ donors are also eligible to donate tissue, bone marrow and stem cells. Organ donation may involve transplantation of the heart, kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs, intestines, hands and face—or all of them, as needed.
Organ Donation Facts: How Can We Save More Lives?
While we often think of organ donation as being something performed after a person’s death. However, a living donation can save lives, too.
The kidneys are the most common organ donated by a living donor. That’s because a person can live with only one functional kidney, so a donation of one of the two kidneys is possible.
During a living liver donation, a segment of an organ donor’s liver is removed and transplanted into someone in need of a liver. A healthy liver has the ability to regenerate, so the portion of the liver that is removed will regrow—and the portion transplanted will also grow into a fully functional liver.
In rare cases, a living person may also donate a uterus or a segment of another organ. If you’re wondering whether you can be a living organ donor, talk with your primary care provider about your health and your options.