Organ donation registration encouraged during National Donate Life Month

Published: Apr. 12, 2022 at 5:55 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – April is National Donate Life Month and a good time to register as a donor if you aren’t already.

By becoming a registered organ donor, just one person can help save up the lives of up to 8 people. Each day 17 people die waiting for a transplant.

Organ being brought into operating room for transplantation. Courtesy of Mayo Clinic
Organ being brought into operating room for transplantation. Courtesy of Mayo Clinic(KTTC)

“Unfortunately, even though we’ve now developed transplants to the point where it can help a great number of people very, very effectively, we cannot apply this to everybody who needs it because we have a critical shortage of available donors,” Mayo Clinic Transplant Center Director Dr. Julie Heimback said.

There are currently more than 100,000 people waiting for a transplant. The greatest need is kidneys.

“That’s bigger than US Bank Stadium,” Gift of Life Transplant House Executive Director Mary Wilder said. “US Bank Stadium will seat 72,000. This whole stadium would not fill how many people are waiting for organ donation.”

Medical officials say you can be a living donor and give a kidney, part of your liver or even bone marrow and still live a normal life.

“I donated my kidney to my dad 45 years ago,” Wilder said. “So, you can look at me, I was a kidney donor, life is good.”

Hundred of transplants are preformed each year at both Mayo Clinic hospitals in Rochester.

“For liver, we did more than 130 liver transplants, our heart and lung volumes were the highest we’ve ever done,” Heimback said. “More than 200 kidney transplants, our bone marrow transplant program is close to 500 transplants.”

Gift of Life Transplant House in Rochester
Gift of Life Transplant House in Rochester(KTTC)

Health experts recommend making your wish of organ donation known to friends and family.

“Their families don’t know that they want to be an organ donor and even though they may have been eligible after they died to be an organ donor their wishes are not known and the family doesn’t pursue that,” Heimback said.

As long at your organs are eligible, you can donate at any age.

“We know of an 83 year old woman who donated her organs and they’re healthy and working well for people,” Wilder said.

Registering to become an organ, eye, and tissue donor is very easy. You can do it online, at the DMV, even when you get your hunting and fishing license.

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