Valentine’s Day has a new meaning when you need an organ transplant to survive. 120,000 Americans currently waiting for precious organ transplants depend on the public to sign up with their state’s organ donor registries on National Donor Day every February 14.
Organ donation and transplantation involves transferring organs or tissues from one individual (the donor) into another person’s body (the recipient).
Keep reading to learn more about becoming a donor in honor of National Donor Day.
Common questions to prepare for National Donor Day
Why become an organ donor?
The science of organ transplantation has made great strides in recent years. However, finding organs is still a challenge — there is a critical shortage of organs compared to the rising number of people waiting to receive them. There are over 123,000 people on the national organ transplantation waiting list and only about 1,100 donors. One organ donor can save as many as eight people.
How do I become a donor?
- State your intent to be an organ donor on your driver’s license.
- Register to be a donor at www.organdonor.gov.
- Tell your loved ones you want to be a donor so they know your wishes.
What organs and tissues can be donated?
- Organs: heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver and intestines
- Tissues: corneas, skin, veins, bone, bone marrow, heart valves, middle ear, tendons and ligaments
- Blood and platelets
How much does it cost to donate organs?
Nothing. The organ recipients and their insurance pay all costs related to donation.
Does organ donation cause disfigurement?
No. Organ donation does not dramatically change the appearance of the body, and the donation will not interfere with having an open casket funeral.
Who manages the distribution of organs?
The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) maintains the national Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. Through the UNOS, organ donors are matched to waiting recipients 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Patients are matched to organs based on a number of factors, including blood and tissue type, medical urgency, the recipient’s time on the waiting list and geographical location.
How much does a transplant cost?
The transplant process has many costs, including pre-transplant testing, procuring the donated organ, the transplant surgery, follow-up care and lifetime prescription drugs. These costs can total hundreds of thousands of dollars. Without a payment guarantee, someone in need of an organ cannot be placed on a waiting list.
Looking for more information?
For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services for Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA).