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February 14: Organ Donor Awareness Day

by Doreen Martel
February 14, 2019

Anyone who watched Channel 5 on Tuesday February 12th couldn't have missed the piece “The Race Against Time”  on the Boston police officer who was on the organ donor list waiting for a lung transplant. Fortunately, he was one of the lucky ones. This year, like those in the past, Valentine’s Day is National Donor Day. There are hundreds of myths about organ donation and the Holliston Lions Club feels it’s important to dispel some of those myths. Lions have, for many years, supported efforts to educate the public about organ donation.

The decision to be an organ or tissue donor is not an easy one, but everyone should know the following information:

  • A person who donates tissues and organs can save up to eight lives and more than 75 people can be helped by a single donor.
  • There are no restrictions on donors, regardless of your medical history, or your age, you can sign up to be a donor.
  • There is no major religion that does not support organ and tissue donation. In fact, many religions view this as a final act of generosity.
  • Donor families do not pay anything towards the cost of the procedures needed to obtain organs and tissue.

Historical Perspective from Massachusetts Lions Clubs

The first Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA) was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1968 after the first successful heart transplant was done in 1967. Lions Clubs took on the task of helping educate the general public about organ donor awareness far later after the UAGA was passed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Lions undertook the massive task of providing to the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) cards which informed the public about organ donation and allowed them to register. Anyone who had to renew their driver’s license prior to 2006 may recall seeing these purple and gold printed cards with a Lion standing on them — the program was called “Lazarus” at that time. Lions Clubs across Massachusetts donated funds each year to bear the cost of the printing of these cards and members from across the state were responsible for delivering them to the RMV.

One Step Past Education

When the RMV began allowing online license renewals, Lions Clubs knew they had to take a new approach. That’s when they began an all-out information campaign to ensure people in their communities were aware of how important the decision to donate organs and tissues were for those who are on the waiting list. The program name was changed from Lazarus to Lions Organ Donor Awareness (LODA) and rather than distributing cards through the DMV, Lions began an all out informational campaign on social media, in local newspapers and in town meetings.

Some of the statistics about organ donation are staggering, even for someone who is familiar with the process of organ donation. Here are some statistics you may be unaware of:

  • Across the United States, there are approximately 115,000 people at any given time on a waiting list for an organ.
  • Every day, an average of 20 people lose their lives because of a lack of available organs.
  • Every 10 minutes, a new name is added to the national transplant list.
  • Since 1988, there have been more than 700,000 transplants in the United States.
  • The most common transplant is the cornea, more than 40,000 transplants occur every year which helps restore sight to victims of corneal diseases.
  • Across the United States, there are more than 6,000 donations of kidneys, and parts of liver, lungs, intestine, blood and bone marrow every year from living donors. Most of these donors are not related to the recipient.
  • It is illegal to buy and sell human organs for transplant purposes.

If you want to learn more about organ donation, we encourage you to visit the Lions Organ Donor Awareness (LODA) website and learn more today. If you are not an organ donor, the Lions Club urges you to consider this life-saving gift.

 

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Comments (1)

Ironically, those who donate organs never hear of the good their kindness does. According to the article above, a new name is added to the national transplant list every ten minutes. According to U.N. statistics for 2018, 7452 people in the United states die daily, or one every twelve minutes. If those statistics are true, more people need transplants daily than could possibly be available if every one who dies is a donor. I suspect something is wrong with these statistics. In any case far more donors are needed than are making themselves available. Every person who is concerned for, and loves his fellow human beings should want to be an organ donor. I am proud to believe that I might either extend or improve anyone's life on earth.

- john Losch | 2/15/19 9:06 PM

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