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Organ Donation Awareness

nurse making a heart with her hands

Since 2003, April has been regarded as National Donate Life Month. Donate Life Month brings awareness to the importance of organ, eye, and tissue donations. Because they don’t receive crucial donations in time, 8,000 individuals die annually; 22 people die each day, which is nearly one person per hour. 

In 2016, around 9,900 deceased donors and 5,900 living donors brought renewed life to patients through more than 33,600 transplants. More than 116,000 men, women, and children await lifesaving organ transplants. Another person is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes. There is a constant need for organ, eye, and tissue donations; one donor could potentially save eight lives and enhance the lives of more than 50 people. An average of 95 transplants takes place every day in the United States. 

Around 80% of patients on the waiting list need a kidney; the average waiting time for a kidney is 3-5 years. 12% of patients need a liver. Nearly one-third of all deceased donors were age 50 years or older. 

There are endless misconceptions about organ donations. Many believe they can’t become a donor because they have a medical condition or think they're too old; however, anyone, regardless of age or medical history, can sign up to be a donor. What matters most is the health and condition of the organs at the time of death. Many people believe their religion doesn’t support organ donation, but most major religions in the United States believe organ donation is the last act of love and generosity. Another common myth about organ donation is it would prevent an open-casket funeral, which is usually possible for deceased organ donors because transplant teams do their best to treat bodies with utmost respect and honor. Potential organ donors worry that their families will have to pay for the removal of organs, eyes, or tissues, which is a myth; there is no cost to organ donors or their families. Organ donors should know that the recipients of their organs are selected through a computer system that bases its match on the time the patient has waited, their blood type, how ill the patient is, and other relevant medical information. 

It is straightforward to become an organ donor in Michigan. You can use the Online Michigan Donor Registry or sign-up when you renew or replace your driver’s license or state ID card through Express SOS or at a Secretary of State office. The Michigan Donor Registry is confidential and is accessed by Gift of Life Michigan to find organs for patients on the waiting list. 

Donate Life Month highlights the importance of organ, eye, and tissue donations. The 116,000 patients who are awaiting a life-saving organ transplant cannot wait much longer. All you have to do is take a few minutes to register as a donor; you could potentially save up to 8 lives and enhance the lives of 50 people. A small heart on your ID could make a significant impact on someone else’s life.