Health Beat with Dr. Alicia Arnold: National Donate Life Month

By: Meghan Kulig Email
By: Meghan Kulig Email

April is National Donate Life Month. It is designed to raise awareness about organ, eye and tissue donation and to celebrate individuals who have saves lives through organ donation.

Meghan Kulig: How many people are currently in need of a donation?

Dr. Arnold: Over 120,000 people are currently waiting for a donation. About 18 people die every day because they don't get a donation in time. There is definitely a shortage of organ donors.

Meghan Kulig: Is there anyone who cannot become an organ donor?

Dr. Arnold: There aren't that many absolute exclusions except for things like HIV, active cancer, or some systemic infections. An important point to note is that there are no definite age limits. All ages, ranging from infants to senior citizens have been organ donors.

Meghan Kulig: How are organ donors and recipients matched?

Dr. Arnold: Many different factors go into play. Some factors that may be considered include blood type and degree of immune system match, size of organ needed, how long the recipient has been waiting for an organ, the distance between the donor and recipient, and how urgent the medical need is for the transplant.

Meghan Kulig: How well do organ transplants work?

Dr. Arnold: Organ transplants have been successfully saving lives for more than 50 years. For example, as of 2009, the percentage of people living 5 years after a transplant was about 70 percent for kidney transplants and close to 75 percent for heart and liver transplants.

Meghan Kulig: How can people sign up to be organ donors?

Dr. Arnold: You can designate your decision on your driver's license. You can register on the state's donor registry or sign a donor card. In Wisconsin, you can sign up for the donor registry online. It is also important for people to tell their families their wishes so their families are aware of their choice. More than100 million people have registered their decision to donate.

Meghan Kulig: What is the impact that one donor can have?

AA: Just one donor can save up to 8 people's lives through organ donation and also help improve the quality of many other people's lives through tissue donation.

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