Health: Did you give the gift of life this Valentine’s/National Donor Day?

By Debbie Bell/Health Department, Published:

While many of us enjoyed the recent splurge on chocolate covered confections or were the recipient of a beautiful bouquet of roses honoring the year’s most coveted declaration of love holiday, some opted for a different way of saying “I Love You” for Valentine’s Day.

Since 1998 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has designated Feb. 14 as National Donor Day. This observance began to increase awareness of the lives that could potentially be saved by organ and tissue donation. It is estimated that one individual donor may provide organs, bone and tissue for up to 50 people in need.

Some of the “gifts” provided through organ and tissue donation include: providing eye sight, assisting burn victims with healing, transplanting viable organs from one individual to another to sustain a life, saving limbs … just to name a few of the miraculous outcomes possible through this selfless act.

The need for organ donation grows daily.

“Currently in the U.S. there are 110,000 people waiting for an organ transplant and approximately 40 percent of those will die while waiting for a donor,” said Dr. Carlos Zayas, a transplant nephrologist at Piedmont Transplant Institute in Atlanta

Similarly, the graph on this page illustrates how the gap between the numbers of patients waiting for a transplant and the number receiving a transplant continues to widen.

National Donor Day, like Valentine’s Day, has come and gone; however, expressing love for another should not be confined to one particular day of the year. Organ donation has provided life, hope and happiness to numerous individuals and families.

Anita Harrod, a Franklin County resident and liver transplant recipient says, “Organ donation has given me the gift of 11 and a half years I might not have had otherwise and has allowed me the privilege of seeing my four great-grandchildren.”

Giving the “gift of life” is priceless, as well as timeless.

You can be a hero today by becoming a member of a donor association. In 2006, Kentucky passed legislation enabling its residents to have their wishes documented about donation through the Kentucky Organ Donor Registry. Protection for the potential donor is worded in the legislation, which states that “only designated procurement personnel have access to the donor registry, and access to the registry would only occur at such times that would confirm an individual’s wishes regarding donation, i.e. upon the death of the individual.”

Sign up today, the steps are simple.

First, make a commitment to become an organ and tissue donor. Second, sign up on the state’s donor registry at www.donatelifeky.org. Lastly, and of equal importance, inform others of your decision. Your declaration and life-saving decision may influence another.

For more information on organ and tissue donation in our area, contact Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates (KODA), on-line at www.kyorgandonor.org. The local KODA Chapter meets in Lexington the second Sunday of the month at Hope Lutheran Church.

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