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Make a change, Save a life

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Did you know nearly 116,000 men, women and children are currently waiting for life-saving organ transplants? Or that one organ donor can save eight lives, while one tissue donor can enhance the lives of more than 50 people?  April is national Donate Life Month, and you can make a difference by registering to be an organ, eye and tissue donor. Support Blue & Green Day – April 19! As part of the Donate Life America campaign, participate in the National Donate Life Blue and Green Day by wearing blue and green clothing; get your office, school and family to join in the fun! Organ Donation is an amazing thing, but unfortunately, on average, 18 people in the U.S. die each day because an organ is not available, and every 10 minutes a new name is added to the national waiting list.

Some common questions asked about organ donation are; Am I too young or old to donate? If your organs are determined as suitable; you can donate no matter what your age is. Will the doctors still try to save my life if they know I’m an organ donor? Yes, they will, organ & tissue donation takes place after all efforts to save your life have failed. What difference can I make?  If one person donates their organs and tissue, they can save up to 50 people in need of a life-saving or life-enhancing transplant. What can I donate? You can donate your heart, kidneys, liver, pancreas and small intestine, bone, connective tissues (ligaments and tendons), cornea (eyes), heart valve, skin and veins/vessels, (another option is, Total Body Donation. A pre-arranged agreement on the part of the deceased person and the donor center is necessary for full body donation to take place. Each center may have different requirements and criteria.  In our area, donation centers are: Cleveland Clinic Body Donation Program and NEOMED.) Is it against my religion? All major religions in the U.S. support donation, and view it as a final act of love and generosity towards others. What does organ and tissue donation cost my family? Donation itself cost nothing, after a patient is declared deceased, LifeBanc or the organ procurement organization of your region is responsible for all cost related to the donation process. For more facts and information visit: http://www.donatelifeohio.org/ or http://www.lifebanc.org/

I know from personal experience how much organ donation can change your life. I remember visiting doctors’ offices with my uncle, Jace McMillan when I was very little. He was diagnosed with diabetes when he was born, and years later, kidney failure.  We learned that he would need a kidney, pancreas transplant and was put on the national waiting list. In the meantime he had to sit for hours to withstand dialysis. I, at the time 4 years old, would accompany Jace and my grandmother to his appointments to keep him entertained and determined to keep fighting. Once he was placed onto the national waiting list, we waited for hours, which turned into day, and weeks, but finally on March 5, 1995 we got the best news, he had organs being harvested for him. Surgery lasted for hours and recovery for months, but now, 18 years later, he is still doing wonderfully, and his transplanted kidney and pancreas are functioning well.

Being a family member of a recipient I know the struggles that both donors and recipients face. When someone is thankful to receive an organ, another is grieving the loss of a family member. In other cases, a person on the waiting list may pass away because he didn’t receive a much-needed organ, because there is a need for registered organ donors. However, when a loved one passes on, you may receive a call from LifeBanc, or another organ procurement organization, asking if you would like to donate your loved ones organs, eyes and tissue, even if they are not registered donors. Once you agree to donate, you will receive a letter from LifeBanc about 2 weeks later that confirms that the transplant(s) were performed and provides limited information about each recipient, but if either the recipient or donor family wish  to correspond with each other, they may contact LifeBanc. This is sometimes a tough decision, not wanting to let your loved one go, but when an organ or tissue is donated, your loved one lives on in someone else.

As many of us know, the need for an organ can hit close to home, no matter where you live, who you are, or how old you are. There is always someone in need.  You can make a difference in this world. Register to be an organ donor today. For more facts and information or to register to be an organ donor visit: http://www.donatelifeohio.org/ or http://www.lifebanc.org/