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Updated on August 9, 2012

Saving lives through Organ & Tissue Donations

As of January 29, 2008, there are currently 98,078 waiting list candidates for organ transplants.

As of January 29, 2008, there are only 12,031 donors.

I never realized the importance of these statistics until 2 years ago. I read a story about a veterinarian that went back to school to learn about embalming. When questioned about why, after several years of school and an established career as a Vet, did she decide to study to become an embalmer, her answer was quite heart wrenching. You see her Father had passed away while waiting on a list to receive a liver transplant, after many months of waiting with no compatiable donor he passed away. She couldn't understand how this could happen as she was all to aware of the amount of deaths that occur per minute in the US alone of healthy people. Then it was explained to her that not many people either registered to be donors or the families of these people that had passed on felt it was against thier religious beliefs and would not allow the donations. When she questioned about the Religious beliefs she was told that many people felt it was against their religion to disturb an individuals body, that they should remain whole & untouched upon death and burial. She did know in fact that people that were embalmed were not "untouched", therefore she wanted to educate herself and possibly many families to this situation as organs are touched and sometimes accidentally removed during the embalming procedure. And in doing this through educating , she could prehaps save other waiting list candidates lives.

Upon reading her story, on September 22, 2006, while re-newing my Drivers License I became a donor.

Most Religions Support Organ Donations

Surprisingly enough, most religions support organ donations or leave it up to the individuals and are not opposed to it. In fact, many religions support it as a charitable act of love and caring. So many support it that the list of non-supporting Religions are only few among those most common that I found. Those not i support are:

  • Gypsies- are opposed
  • Jehovah Witnesses- while not opposed believe all blood should be drained before transplanting
  • Shinto- Opposed, as families are concerned that they injure the "itai", the relationship between the dead person and the bereaved people

How To Become a Donor:

  1. Register with your state-Most states not all have donor registries-I have provided the link below
  2. Designate your decision on your Drivers License upon obtaining or re-newing
  3. Sign a donor card - print or order a donor card and sign it to carry with you until you designate on your Drivers License or join a registry (Government Link below to print out as many cards as you want! Give them out to your friends and family)
  4. Talk to your family now- Let your family members know now about your donation decision

Who Can Donate?

Almost everyone can donate regardless of age, newborns and seniors can be organ donors.

If you are under 18, permission must be given by a parent or legal gaurdian

However, there are exclusions such as:

  • HIV
  • Active cancer
  • Systemic Infection

Medical Condition? Don't rule yourself out. Doctors will evaluate type of illness,condition upon death & types of organs & tissues that would be donated.

What Can be Donated?

Donations include:

ORGANS: Kidneys, heart, liver, pancreas & intestines. The living can also donate a kidney, part of a lung, part of the pancreas,part of a liver or part of an intestine.

TISSUE:Corneas, middle ear,skin,heart valves,bone, veins, cartilage, tendons & ligaments

STEM CELLS: Healthy Adults between the ages of 18-60 can donate blood stem cells through Marrow,Peripheral Blood Stem Cells & Cord Blood

BLOOD & PLATELETS: Donate blood- safe to donate every 56 days & Platelets twice in one week up to 24 times a year.


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    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 8 years ago from America

      You may not like my comment. Our son 5 years ago received a brain injury. The day after he arrived at the hospital and all test were finished they ask us to sign for him to be a donor. They told us he was brain dead. I just couldn't do it I was worried they would turn off the machines and not try to save him..Everyday for two weeks more then once a day they ask us to sign to take him off life support and sign for him to be a donor. We said "no you do all that you can to save him. When we think it is the right time we will sign." I heard the nurses talking about us and how foolish we were. Long story short. Our son is alive today and living a normal life.

      I know how much donors are needed and I know that someday I may need one of those donors. I have a bad heart.

      I still believe everyone should sign a donor card or whatever. It was just a decision we couldn't make for our son.

    • Just Toyia profile image

      Just Toyia 9 years ago from Tennessee

      I think if many more people became voluntary organ donors it would effectively cut down the illegally obtained and sold organs and people risking their own lives to donate organs just for the money-what do you think?