Health Care

How can we grow the organ-donor database?

February 15, 2013
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How can we grow the organ-donor database?
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Spectrum Health has completed its first lung transplant — and this brings to mind the need for people to consider pledging their organs for transplants after they no longer need them.

Gift of Life and the Secretary of State make signing up for organ donation easy in Michigan. Every time a driver’s license is taken out or renewed, a donation pledge can be made.

The Gift of Life website can also be used, and hospitals are to ask about donation in the case of terminal patients.

For years, West Michigan has led the state in obtaining organ donations.

The generosity of Michigan's 270 organ donors resulted in 792 life-saving transplants in 2011, according to Gift of Life.

Nationwide, more than 110,000 people are waiting for an organ transplant. On average, 18 people die each day waiting for a transplant.

A record 398,000 people joined the Michigan Organ Donor Registry in 2011.

Legally, in Michigan, people must opt to donate organs.

With new legislation, it would be possible to make organ donation an expected standard, unless a person opts out. This could greatly increase the supply of needed organs, while allowing those who object to avoid donating.

It’s wonderful that Spectrum Health now can perform lung transplants and allow patients to avoid traveling to recognized transplant centers elsewhere.

But if some 82 people are waiting for a lung in Michigan, do we need a more donations, or a larger donor registry, before we have more transplant centers? Perhaps both are needed.

3, 000 Michigan residents waiting for organ transplants

  • Kidney: 2,501
  • Liver: 344
  • Lung: 82
  • Heart: 76
  • Kidney/Pancreas: 46
  • Pancreas: 12
  • Kidney/Liver: 11
  • Intestine: 4

source: Gift of Life; as of November 1, 2012

Organ-donation facts

  • Each organ donor can save up to eight lives
  • Nearly 10,000 Michigan patients have received a life-saving organ transplant in the last 10 years
  • On average, 17 Michigan patients receive an organ transplant each week
  • Cornea transplants have been successful for over 100 years, and organ transplants have worked for more than 50
  • There is no age limit for donation. People in their 90s have been able to donate organs
  • Donation doesn't cost the donor or the donor's family anything
  • Each tissue donor can improve the lives of up to 50 people

soure: Gift of Life 

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