Key messages for Thursday 7/10/03
1. Despite continuing advances in medicine and technology, the demand for organs is vastly greater than the number of organ donors. There is a critical shortage of available organs in this country.
2. In 2001, there were:
* 12,528 deceased and living organ donors
* 24,076 lifesaving organ transplants
* 84,798 registrations on the waiting list at the end of the year
* 6,439 people who died while waiting
2. There are currently over 80,000 people on the organ donor waiting list. 55,000 of those are waiting for kidneys.
1. Almost anyone can donate organs and save someone’s life. To have your organs donated upon death, you must fill out your donor registration card and make sure to tell your family members that these are your wishes. You should also state your wishes in your medical directive documents.
2. Living donation can offer an alternative for individuals on the organ waiting list and can greatly increase the existing organ supply.
3. In 2001, there were 24,076 organ transplants performed in the United States. More than 6,447 of these were living donor transplants.
4. Unrelated donors (for example, spouses or close friends) may donate their organs if they provide a match for the recipients. Living "stranger-to-stranger" donation is a quite new and growing source of donors.
5. Living donor transplants are a viable alternative for patients in need of new organs. Many different types of organs can be delivered by living donors, including:
A Single Kidney
This is the most frequent type of living organ donation. For the donor, there is little risk in living with one kidney; the remaining kidney compensates to do the work of both kidneys.
Individuals can donate segments of the liver, which has the ability to regenerate the segment that was donated and regain full function.
In this type of living donation, individuals donate lobes of the lung. Lung lobes do not regenerate.
Individuals can also donate a portion of the pancreas. Like the lung, the pancreas does not regenerate, but donors usually have no problems with reduced function.
6. Often as many as, 50% of all living donors evaluated by the hospital are rejected for one reason or another.
7. Survival rates for living donor organ recipients are significantly higher than for cadaver organ recipients.
8. Immunosuppressive medications, which keep the recipient's body from rejecting the donor kidney, have improved greatly over the last few years. Now, a genetic link between the donor and recipient does not appear to be necessary to ensure a successful transplant.
Actions One Can Take
1. Contact an organ transplant center near you to get information on becoming a donor.
2. Educate yourself as much as possible about the process and medical procedures. A few places to start are:
United Network For Organ Sharing: www.unos.org
Living Donors Online: www.livingdonorsonline.com
National Kidney Foundation: www.kidney.org
Transplant Buddies Online: www.transplantbuddies.org
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