National Donor Day is observed every year on the same day as Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. Though Valentine’s Day and National Donor Day have already passed, the need for organ donors remains.
In Wyoming alone, there are nearly 150 people awaiting a life-saving donation.
What is National Donor Day?
Ryea’ O’Neill is the Community Relations Director for Donor Alliance in Wyoming. Her family was both a donor and recipient family. Due to her previous experience, she was moved by cause.
“It’s not a coincidence National Donor Day and Valentine’s Day fall on the same day each year,” O’Neill said. “It’s about showing the love. Saying yes gives hope to community members across the state.”
According to donatelife.net, “National Donor Day is an observance dedicated to spreading awareness and education about organ, eye and tissue donation. By educating and sharing the Donate Life message, we can each take small steps every day to help save and heal more lives, and honor the donor’s legacy of generosity and compassion.”
O’Neill says talking with one’s family about the choice is one of the biggest priorities for National Donor Day. All too often there have been circumstances where a person has passed away, the doctor approaches the family and asks them if they would like to donate their loved one’s organs.
“No family should have to make that decision,” O’Neill said.
Families should come together and talk about these decisions. While they are not decisions to be taken lightly, talking about it now could prevent one’s family from having to deal with the matter later.
“It’s really important for families to talk about their decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor. We encourage them to discuss it prior to coming to the office where they will be asked if they want to join the organ and tissue donor registry. Letting your family know your decision will make it easier on everyone if something were to happen to you,” Deb Cain, Torrington driver services supervisor said. “My family has been fortunate to have a member receive an organ and another who was able to donate corneas. Don’t assume your family knows. Start the conversation.”
In addition, signing up as a donor takes the burden of deciding off the family and places priority on the deceased person’s wishes to be a donor. The deceased person’s preference will take priority over the family’s preference.
How does the waiting list work?
According to donatelifewyoming.org, a healthcare provider determines a patient requires a transplant and they are place on the organ transplant waiting list. They remain on that list until an organ becomes available.
The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) takes in the medical data of the patient and their organ and tissue needs. The organization then works to match donors and recipients with the lifesaving organs and tissues based on a combination of donor and transplant candidate medical data and the location of the transplant and honor hospitals, according to donatelifewyoming.org.
What organs and tissues can be donated?
A person’s heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas, small intestines, eyes/corneas, heart valves, bone and associated tissues, skin, veins, arteries and nerves can all be donated so long as they are healthy. In addition, organs and tissues can be donated for research and education purposes.
Who can donate?
Anyone can choose to donate, regardless of age and medical history. Those with chronic medical conditions and infectious diseases might still be able to donate. The doctor’s take all these factors into consideration and make the appropriate well-measured decision to harvest the organs, eyes and tissues that can be used.
In Wyoming 62% of all residents said yes to organ, eye and tissue donation. Of the 62%, women in Wyoming said yes to donation at a rate 10% higher than men.
How do I register?
It’s very easy to get registered as a donor and that registration could make a larger impact than one might think. Besides that, the need is immense. According to donatelife.net, “110,000 men, women and children are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants. Every 10 minutes another person is added to the national transplant waiting list.”
Any person can register by visiting the Wyoming website at donatelifewyoming.org or the national website at donatelife.net and selecting “Register to be a Donor.” According to donatelife.net, “registration takes less than a minute.”
If a person is concerned about registering online, they can visit their local
A donor could save up to eight lives by donating their organs, restore sight for up to two people with eye donations and heal the lives of up to 75 people, according to Donate Life America.
What about live donations?
If a person wishes to donate now, whether it be a kidney, part of one’s liver, pancreas or intestines, they must contact a transplant center directly as living donations are not part of signing up as an organ, eye and tissue donor through donate life.
For questions, call Donate Life Wyoming at 307-577-1700, email them at [email protected] or visit their office at 330 South Center Street, Suite 418, in Casper.