How does organ donation work?

How does organ donation work?
Organ donation is the process of providing an organ, part of an organ, or multiple organs to transplant into one or more people. Organ donors can be living or deceased. This is such an important program, for so many people, that I thought this would be a good topic for our discussion this week. Today we will focus on deceased donor donation. Next week, we can talk about becoming a living donor.

First let’s go over some basic organ donation statistics.

  • Over 113,000 men, women, & children are on the national transplant waiting list as of Jan 2019
  • 36,528 transplants were performed in 2018 • 20 people die EACH DAY waiting for a transplant
  • 95% of U.S. adults support organ donation but only 58% are actually signed up as donors
  • Every 10 minutes, another person is added to the transplant waiting list in the U.S.
  • Only 3 in 1,000 people die in a way that allows for organ donation
  • One donor can potentially save eight lives, in addition to providing the gift of sight

What can be donated by a deceased donor?

  • Eight major organs
  • Corneas
  • Tissues (such as the skin)
  • Hands and Face

How does deceased donor organ donation work?

  • Register as a donor – The first step in becoming an organ donor is to register as a donor in your state. You can register online or in person where you get your driver’s license. Registration usually happens many years before donation.
  • When a person comes to the hospital with a condition that will allow organ donation, such as a car accident, severe head trauma, or a brain aneurysm, whether or not they are a registered organ donor is not considered in the health care decisions that are made. Every effort is made to save that patient’s life.
  • Brain Death Testing – If the patient dies, they will be kept on life support while a series of tests are done to determine if brain death has occurred. A patient who is brain dead is unable to breathe on their own, and cannot recover from brain death. Only after brain death has been confirmed, can organ donation become a possibility.
  • The hospital will then notify the appropriate organ donation organizations, based on federal regulations, and the process can continue from there with the matching process, then the removal and transplant of organs to the recipient. Sometimes the organ must be transported long distances in order to reach the matched recipient. Minutes count in this process!

What can you do to save more lives?

  • Register in your state as an organ donor.
  • Let your family know that you want to be an organ donor, so they know when the time comes.
  • Talk to your family and friends and encourage them to become donors as well.

For more information about organ donation, follow this link.
https://www.organdonor.gov/index.html.

If you have any more questions just Ask Hanna, our health advisors are here to help.

Dr. Anita Bennett MD – Health Tip Content Editor
Image: ©Shutterstock / Lemau Studio

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