Resources for Family Caregivers of Older Adults
National Donor Day: Sharing the Gift of Life Through Organ Donation

National Donor Day: Sharing the Gift of Life Through Organ Donation

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We treasure the gift of life but the concept of donating our organs at the end of life makes many of us — and our senior loved ones — uneasy.

Many lives depend on that gift.

Did you know that there are more than 124,000 people in the U.S. in need of an organ, tissue or eye donation who are on a waiting list for a life saving donation?

Or that every 10 minutes another person is added to the national waiting list for organ donation?

Or even that 18 people each day die while waiting for a transplant that never arrives, with thousands dying before an organ becomes available?

Each day, an average of 79 people DO receive organ transplants. 

Did you realize that people of any age can be organ donors? There is no age limit on becoming an organ donor. Each person who donates can save as many as 8 lives.

Already, 100 million of the 320 million US citizens have registered. Is your senior loved one part of that number? Are you?

National Organ Donor Day

Clearly there is a need in the US for more heroes who sign up to be an organ donor, choosing to help others beat death.

Valentine’s Day is designated as Organ Donor Day to encourage us give a gift from the heart. It is also known as Donor Day and includes those who donate blood, platelets and bone marrow to those in need.

It recognizes those who have donated and encourages us to donate too!

Becoming an organ donor is a personal decision and one that takes some careful thought and learning to make.

It is the ultimate gift a person can give.

It’s also a decision that may be tough for family caregivers to shoulder if your senior’s wishes aren’t clear so encourage yours for make their donor election formal. Maybe you can do the same along side them.

Discuss Donation in Advance

As we and our senior loved ones age, facing our future and our choices for the end of our life are often difficult to do. It is even harder to talk about out loud with family members but it is a conversation worth having.

Not only will we learn what the wishes of our senior loved ones are but how their life can mean something crucial to the lives of others they don’t even know.

In the event that this is a conversation that didn’t take place before the end of life, many family members don’t feel they can opt to donate their senior loved one’s organs when asked to consent. It may not just be that you are afraid that your senior would not be in agreement, but the conversation never occurred resulting in what could be a missed opportunity to share the gift of life.

If your senior is one that has had led a nurturing and giving life, this may be a wish he or she would want to continue in a lifelong spirit of giving.

Knowing the Facts & Figures Can Help

Not knowing all the facts about organ donation can also hold back family members from making this decision when the end is near for our aging seniors.

In the event of an end of life experience, the timing may not be right to make this type of decision when there are many other priorities and emotions that take precedence at this time leaving valuable, life saving organs unused. Therefore, a conversation now is the best idea if you feel that they would want to share this precious gift or to simply learn about options.

Families who already know the wishes of their seniors are seven times more likely to pursue organ donation.

Even if your senior has designated on their driver’s license that they wished to donate their organs, the next of kin will still be asked to give consent for harvesting of organs when the time comes. You will need to know their wishes to make the choice yourself and feel confident that this is their wish. You will only know this through conversation now.

Organ Donation Facts

According to Donate Life, “90% of Americans say they support donation, but only 30% know the essential steps to take to be a donor.” You can turn a time of loss into a time of hope for others. Here’s a video that might help answer some questions you and your loved one have about organ donation.

There is more information and a link for you to become an organ donor if you wish at organdonor.gov. Organ donation is regulated and operated by the national registry UNOS, a private non-profit organization contracted by the federal government with strict controls in place.

  • Anyone at any age can donate organs. Despite having a chronic disease, the medical team will make a determination if there are viable organs or tissue that can be given or if the medical diagnosis does not allow donation.
  • Most organs are donated after death but many come from living donors.
  • Sometimes an organ can be used successfully even when the blood or tissue type don’t match.
  • You can save up to eight lives with your organs. Last year, organ donors made about 29,000 transplants possible. In 2013, more than 47,000 cornea transplants were done.
  • You can designate yourself an organ donor by registering with your state organ donor registry, every state has a registry. You can access your state’s registry here. You can also sign up when you renew your driver’s license.
  • Most major religions consider organ donation a final gift of love.
  • There is no cost to the organ donor or the family for donating an organ.

Talk to your senior loved one today and discuss their thoughts and wishes about organ donation. Get the facts and you’ll be ready when the time comes.

Donate Life and Share the Gift of Life!

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