Today there are nearly 83,000 men, women, and children on the national organ transplantation waiting list. Alan Lagans, DO, an osteopathic physician who is a professor of surgery and the chief of the section of Transplantation at the University Medical Center in Omaha, believes there are two reasons for this.
"On one hand," he says, "medical advances have increased the success rate of using organ transplantation to treat a number of life-threatening diseases. However, there hasn’t been a corresponding increase in the efforts by doctors and their patients to become more informed about the need for donated organs, or to openly address the issues and concerns patients may have about donating."
When considering donation, many people think only about the major organs, such as the heart liver or kidneys. However, there are more than 25 different transplantable organs and tissues, including:
Corneas for preserving or restoring sight
Bone marrow for treating certain types of leukemia and sickle cell anemia
Skin grafts for burn accident and disease victims
Bone for reconstructing lost, destroyed or deformed limbs or facial features
Heart valves for correcting birth defects
Tendons, ligaments, and cartilage for correcting congenital defects or traumatic deformities
In fact, according to the American Osteopathic Association, each donor can potentially save and enhance up to 50 lives and take eight people off the national donor waiting list.
"Americans’ attitudes about organ and tissue donation are changing, but we still have a long way to go," sys Wayne J. Reynolds, DO, an osteopathic physician with Hayes Medical Center in Hayes, VA.
To express your wishes to become a donor, indicate your intent to donate on your driver’s license and carry an organ donor card with you at all times. Most importantly, be sure your family and loved ones are aware of your intent to be a donor.
Information provided by North American Precis Syndicate, Inc.