Spread the word! National donor day is here!
Donate organs, save lives!
February 13, 2023
What comes to mind when you think of February the fourteenth? Notes exchanged to those you care for, a dinner-date with the one you admire, or donating your kidney to someone in need in order to save their life? National donor day is a day observed on February the 14th every year since 1998, centering on the donation of organs and tissue.
Organ and tissue donation is important as it absolutely can save someone’s life. It’s estimated that every day, 20 patients die due to a lack of a suitable matching organ in the U.S. alone. Tissue donations can help burn victims recover skin, or help those with Corneal blindness regain sight. National donor day was created in order to spread awareness about organ and tissue donation and to celebrate those who have made the decision to donate.
Despite 90% of adults supporting organ donation, only 60% are actually signed up as donors. This number may seem like a lot of potential donors, but the need for organ donation becomes clearer when you realize the need to find a matching organ donor and the time that an organ can survive outside of the human body. Both the heart and lungs are similar in that they can only survive out-of-body for between four to six hours. During those four to six hours, organs have to be transported from the hospital where the organ is removed to the hospital where the closest suitable donor is located. Other organs, such as kidneys and the pancreas, can survive for longer, but organ matching still makes getting donors for those on waiting lists hard, and time sensitivity is usually still a concern.
Organ matching is determined by mostly hereditary aspects, meaning that organ donation becomes more important if you’re an ethnic minority; there are likely to be fewer organ matches for minorities because not as many minorities donate organs. According to 2021’s statistics, 43,025 white people went on waiting lists for an organ, and 21,359, or about half, received transplants. Meanwhile, 30,181 black people went on waiting lists in 2021, and of those 9,252, or 30%, received an organ. Even still, it’s important to donate no matter what race, gender, or age you are.
One way you can help this donor day is to register as an organ donor on your driver’s license. Whenever you go to get or renew your license, you can ask to have your donation status reflected on your driver’s license so that after death, your organs can be given to someone in need. If you know anyone who needs certain tissues or organs that can be donated while still alive, you might want to look into the possibility of donation. One universal way of helping is to spread awareness about the importance of organ donation online and with your loved ones. The more people know about organ donation, the more likely people are to help, and the more likely people are to continue to spread awareness.
There are many common misconceptions surrounding organ donation, such as the belief that doctors are less likely to help donors, that doctors are more likely to declare organ donors dead earlier, or that the families of the deceased will be charged for the donation of organs; however these simply aren’t true. Organ donation also won’t stop the family of the donor from having an open casket funeral.
Another common misconception surrounding organ donation is the belief that doctors won’t want your organs if you’re not in good health or are older. However, organ viability is determined by factors that don’t always align with age or physical health; don’t be discouraged to donate organs when there’s a good likelihood that your organs could save the life of someone in need.
While a person is added to organ donor lists every 10 minutes, a single donor can theoretically save up to 8 lives, and help 75 others. Organ donation is one of the easiest ways to save someone’s life with very little effort on the donor’s end. It is incredibly easy to sign up to be a donor compared to the possible impact that it could have. So for this donor’s day, consider raising awareness or registering as a donor.
Donate Life America. (2022, December 15). National Donor Day. Retrieved February 11, 2023, from https://www.donatelife.net/celebrations/national-donor-day/
Health Resources & Services Administration. (2021, April). Donate Organs While Alive. organdonor.gov. Retrieved February 11, 2023, from https://www.organdonor.gov/learn/process/living-donation
Health Resources & Services Administration. (2022, March). Organ Donation Statistics. organdonor.gov. Retrieved February 11, 2023, from https://www.organdonor.gov/learn/organ-donation-statistics
Health Resources & Services Administration. (2021, April). Matching Donors and Recipients. organdonor.gov. Retrieved February 11, 2023, from https://www.organdonor.gov/learn/process/matching
Donor Alliance. (2020, June 16). Tissue donation. Retrieved February 11, 2023, from https://www.donoralliance.org/understanding-donation/about-donation/tissue-donation/
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, May 15). Organ donation: Don’t let these myths confuse you. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved February 11, 2023, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/organ-donation/art-20047529