Each day, an average of 79 people receive organ transplants. However, an average of 18 people die each day waiting for transplants that can't take place because of the shortage of donations. Although there have been many advances in medical technology the past few decades, the demand for organ donation still vastly exceeds the number of donors.
This month, UnityPoint Health - Des Moines celebrates National Donate Life Month. The celebration commemorates those who have received or continue to wait for lifesaving transplants. According to Donate Life America, there are currently more than 110,000 people waiting for an organ transplant. Unfortunately, many may never find a suitable donor organ and have a second chance at life. Learn how you can help today.
What is Organ Donation?
Organ donation is the process of giving an organ, or a part of an organ, for the purpose of transplantation into another person. Anyone, regardless of your age or medical history, can indicate his or her intent to donate (persons under 18 years of age must have a guardian’s consent). Medical suitability for donation is determined at the time of death.
What organs can be donated?
Each organ and tissue donor saves or improves the lives of as many as 50 people, with success rates for organ transplants between 80 and 90 percent. Here are some of the organs that can be donated to help improve the quality of someone’s life:
- Organs: heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver, and intestines
- Tissue: cornea, skin, heart valves, bone, blood vessels, and connective tissue
- Bone marrow/stem cells, umbilical cord blood, and peripheral blood stem cells
It's especially important to consider becoming an organ donor if you belong to an ethnic minority, as certain blood types are more prevalent in ethnic minority populations. Since matching blood type is usually necessary for transplants, the need for minority donor organs is in high demand.
How Can I Donate My Organs?
95 percent of Americans say they support being a donor, but only 58 percent are registered. Registration is fast and easy. You can register online to be an organ donor and also mark “YES” when you get your driver’s license renewed.
It's also important to talk with your family about your wishes to be an organ donor. Your family can serve as an advocate for your decision at the time of your death, and may be asked to give consent for donation or provide additional information to the transplant team.
How Can I Donate My Kidneys or Other Organs While I Am Alive?
It is becoming more common to donate organs and partial organs while living. In fact, kidneys are the most common organs donated by living donors. The decision to make a living donation is a personal one, and this decision should be made free from pressure.
For more than 25 years, the Iowa Methodist Transplant Center has performed kidney transplants with a dedicated team of surgeons, nephrologists and support staff. Since this time, there have been more than 400 kidney transplants completed at Iowa Methodist. If you are interested in becoming a living kidney donor at the Iowa Methodist Transplant Center, please fill out this form. Please contact the Transplant Center at (515) 241-4044 if you have any questions.