April is National Donor Awareness Month

Allison B. Hudson

National Donate Life Month was established in 2003. Every day in April, people across the U.S. make a special effort to celebrate the tremendous generosity of those who have saved lives by becoming organ, tissue, marrow, and blood donors and to encourage more Americans to follow their fine example.

How to become a donor:

* Register with your State Donor Registry, if available.

* Say YES to donation on your driver's license.

* Tell your family, friends, physician, and faith leader that you want to be a donor.

* Fill out and sign a donor card, have it witnessed, carry it with you.

Tell a friend

More than 98,000 people are in need of an organ for transplant. Each day about 77 people get the organ transplant that gives them a second chance.Over more than half the people on the waiting list for a donated organ are racial or ethnic minorities. Chances of getting a transplant increase if donor and recipient share the same racial/ethnic background.

As of March 30, 2010 there are 106,605 on the waiting list for an organ. The number of transplants received as of March 26, 2010 is 28,464. There were 14,631 donors as of March 26, 2010.

All people of all ages should consider themselves potential organ and tissue donors. There are few absolute exclusions (HIV positive, active cancer, systemic infection) and no strict upper or lower age limits. Potential donors will be evaluated for suitability when the occasion arises.

No one is too old or too young. Both newborns and senior citizens have been organ donors. The condition of your organs is more important than age. Someone 35 years old with a history of alcohol abuse may have a liver that is in worse condition than someone 60 years old that has never consumed alcohol. In addition, people on the waiting list might need to be transplanted with an organ that is less than ideal if there is no other suitable organ available in time to save their lives. Doctors will examine your organs and determine whether they are suitable for donation if the situation arises. If you are under 18, you will need the permission of a parent or guardian to donate.