In the United States, there are more than 115,000 people waiting for an organ transplant. However, there are only around 8,000 deceased organ donors each year. Due to the supply versus demand, around 20 people die each day while waiting for an organ and another person is added to the wait list every 10 minutes. Registering to be an organ and tissue donor can help to meet this demand.
One person alone can save up to eight lives through the donation of lungs, liver, heart, kidney, pancreas, and intestines, while a tissue donor can impact over 50 or more people. Organs are matched to patients based on multiple factors, including blood and tissue typing, medical need, time on waiting list, and geographical location.
Ninety percent of Americans support donation, but less than half are registered. Your decision to register as a donor is a legal, documented decision to be an organ and tissue donor upon death, according to the Tennessee Uniform Anatomical Gift Act. With the exception of minors, a person’s decision to become a registered donor does not require the consent of any other person. However, it is important to discuss your wishes with your family members so they are aware.
There are four main ways to register in Tennessee:
- Go to the online Donor Registry at donatelifetn.org. This is the best way to specify your gifts. Anyone 13 years of age and older can register online if they have a state ID, driver’s license or learner’s permit.
- Department of Safety Drivers Services Centers. Once you check “yes” on your driver’s license application for a new license or renewal, you will notice a red heart on your driver’s license a symbol you are registered as an organ and tissue donor.
- org/via Apple Health App for the National Organ and Tissue Registry
- Advance Directive/Living Will
There are many misconceptions about organ donation. Here are just a few:
- Many people think they may not be eligible. Anyone may be a potential donor regardless of age, race, or medical history. Medical condition at the time of death will determine what organs and tissue can be donated. Only a few conditions would prevent a person from becoming a donor such as active cancer or a systemic infection.
- Some people think they’re too old to become a donor. Newborns and senior citizens into their 90’s have been donors. The health of your organs is more important than your age.
- An open casket is an option.
- If you are sick or injured, the hospital will do everything possible to save your life. Only after all life-saving efforts have been exhausted may organ and tissue donation be an option.
You never know when you or someone you love might be in need of an organ or tissue. April is National Donate Life Month. Please consider registering to be an organ donor and encouraging others to do so as well. Visit www.DonateLifeTN.org for more information about organ and tissue donation and the donor registry. Feel free to call the Henry County Medical Center Findline at 731-644-3463 with any questions.