This post was last updated November 9, 2017
Every day, about 22 people in the United States die while waiting for an organ transplant. For people whose organs are failing because of end-stage organ disease, donated organs and tissue may offer the gift of sight, freedom from machines, or even life itself.
The Importance of Organ Donation
April is National Donate Life Month and the need for organ donors is greater than ever. Did you know?
- 683,000 organ transplants have taken place since 1988.
- A single donor may save or enhance the lives of up to 75 people.
- Approximately 28,000 patients begin new lives each year thanks to organ transplants.
- A kidney, a portion of the liver, and bone marrow can each be transplanted from living donors.
- About three-quarters of all live donors are relatives of their recipient, most commonly a brother or sister.
- The number of living unrelated donors has nearly tripled since 1998.
- On average, 106 people are added to the nation’s organ transplant waiting list each day — one every 14 minutes.
- More than 117,000 men, women, and children await lifesaving organ transplants. Even the largest football stadium in the US could not fit the number of patients on the national transplant waiting list. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania alone has more than 8,400 residents awaiting transplantation.
- You have the power to save lives and improve the quality of life of those in need of any form of transplant.
Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about organ donation.
Common Myths About Organ Donation
Myth — if I am in a car accident, and the doctors and nurses find I’m a registered organ donor, they will not try to save my life.
Fact — Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals will do everything they can to save your life.
Myth — I have a history of medical illnesses, therefore my organs cannot be donated.
Fact — Few conditions or illnesses preclude someone from being an organ donor. The Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE) will determine the suitability or organs at the time of a donor’s death.
Myth — Only the heart, liver, and kidneys can be donated.
Myth — I’m not the right age for organ donation.
Fact — There is no age limit for organ donation. The general age limit for tissue donation is 80 and for cornea donation 70.
Myth — Wealthy people are the only people who receive transplants.
Fact — Organs are matched first according to height, weight, and blood type, followed by medical urgency and then time accrued on the waiting list. Fame and fortune do not determine who receives a transplant. Most major insurances now cover transplants.
Myth — I Cannot Choose Which Organs I Want to Donate.
Fact — On your donor card, you can list which organs and tissues you’re willing to donate.
For more information on how to become an organ donor, and for a list of UPMC Donate Life Month events, visit the UPMC Organ Donation website.