American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

Giving the Gift of Life at the End of Life

Doctor talking with older patientToday there are more than 120,000 men, women and children on the national organ transplantation waiting list.

These numbers remain high because although medical advances have increased the success rate of using organ transplantation to treat a number of life-threatening diseases, 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.

Organs That Can Be Donated

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," says Wayne J. Reynolds, DO, an osteopathic physician in Hayes, Virginia. 

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. 

Edited by Carolyn Quist, DO​​​​


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