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Saving Lives, One Donor at a Time: Celebrating Donate Life Month

By Chris Donhost, Sierra Donor Services


Donate Life Month is a nationwide observance focusing attention on the need for organ, eye, and tissue donation. Held during the month of April, communities come together to recognize the importance of registering your decision to be a donor (www.registerme.org), honoring deceased and living donors, and celebrating the lives they saved. Nationally, more than 100,000 adults and children are waiting for a life-saving transplant. Over 20,000 of those in need are our neighbors here in California. More than 170 million people have registered their decision to be a donor and help others at the end of their life. Yet, the need is still great. Every 8 minutes another person is added to the wait list and 17 people die each day while waiting for an organ transplant. Every donor can save up to 8 lives and help enhance the lives of 75 more through tissue and eye donation.

 

It is the generosity of donors and donor families that makes saving lives through transplantation possible. When someone registers to be a donor, it carries the full weight of a power of attorney or an advanced medical directive. Most states allow anyone over the age of 15 to join the Donate Life Registry, but until they reach the age of 18, a parent can revoke the minor’s authorization. The oldest known donor was 106 years old, so age isn’t necessarily a rule-out. Donor eligibility criteria is constantly changing with advancements in medicine, so if you want to be a donor, don’t exclude yourself. Go ahead and register your decision to be a donor and communicate your wishes to your family.  

 

Through medical advancements, many transplantable grafts have been developed using donated skin, bone, blood vessels, nerves, heart valves, corneas, cartilage, and tendons. In fact, there were more than 3 million tissue grafts transplanted last year in the United States. Skin grafts are being used in breast reconstruction surgery following mastectomy, bladder slings to control incontinence and hernia repair. Dermal skin grafts have also saved the lives of infants born with Omphalocele, a birth defect of the abdominal wall that leaves the infant's intestines, liver, and other organs outside of the body. Tissue donation restores circulation, feeling, range of motion, sight, and so much more.

 

For more information about organ, eye, and tissue donation be sure to visit www.donatelifecalifornia.org. There you can learn more about ways to help and read stories of hope, news, and events supporting this lifesaving work.  



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