MARTIN – April is National Donate Life Month and Saint Joseph Martin, part of KentuckyOne Health, is encouraging Kentuckians to give the gift of life and register to be an organ and tissue donor. According to Donate Life, there are more than 123,000 men, women and children waiting for an organ or tissue transplant right now. Every 10 minutes, another name is added to that list. More than 6,500 people a year – about 22 a day – die before that organ ever becomes available. Becoming an organ and tissue donor can help save these lives.
“Organ and tissue donation is a generous and worthwhile decision that gives a second chance at life to not just one, but up to 50 people in need,” said Angela O’Quinn, DO, Family Medicine, KentuckyOne Health. “Across the nation, there are thousands of people waiting for ‘the call’ that a match has been found because organ donors are in short supply. You could be that phone call to save a life.”
According to a recent study by Kentucky Organ Donor Associates (KODA), 90 percent of people say that they support organ donation, but only 30 percent understand the different types of organ donation, and how to register. In Kentucky, there are multiple ways to become an organ donor. You can register online at www.donatelifeky.org. You can also register as a donor when you renew your driver’s license.
Organs that can be donated for transplantation include kidneys, heart, lungs, liver and pancreas. Tissues that can be donated include eyes, skin, heart valves, bones, saphenous veins and tendons. Donations help patients with life-threatening illnesses and injuries.
Donors are needed for all races and ethnic groups. Minority donors are especially important because transplants are more successful when donor and recipient are of the same ethnic background. However, organs can sometimes be transplanted between sexes and races, depending on factors such as blood type and body size.
Organ donation legislation passed in 2006 ensures that your wishes to donate life will be carried out after death if you register through the Kentucky Organ Donor Registry. It is also important to inform your family of your wishes and sign the back of your driver’s license if you are an organ and tissue donor. If you decide to become an organ and tissue donor, and then change your mind while you are still living, you may remove your name from the list.
Living organ donation is also an option that allows volunteers to donate select non-critical organs and tissues, such as a kidney or skin, to someone in need while they are still living. Living donations usually occur between family members or close friends, but can come from anonymous donors.
For more information about organ and tissue donation in Kentucky, visit www.kyorgandonor.org. For more information about organ donation and transplant care within KentuckyOne Health, visit www.kentuckyonehealth.org/transplantcare.