"There are so many things I've had a chance to do and so many blessings I've had. As I joined thousands on the waiting list for an organ, I thought the hardest decision had been made, until I realized there may not be someone, or some family, with enough love to give the gift of life. When a tragedy occurred in the life of a 30-year-old Brazoria, Texas, housewife, her family gave the ultimate gift of life to me, and I will be forever grateful."
Phil Berry Jr, MD
The lack of organ donors is a national medical crisis with a simple cure.
The solution has nothing to do with money or legislation.
It has everything to do with people.
Right now, more than 80,000 people in the United States are waiting for life-saving organ transplants. Approximately 6,000 of those people live in Texas. Every 13 minutes, another name is added to the transplant waiting list. Every 24 hours, 16 people die because suitable organs are not available. Thousands of people die needlessly each year due to lack of donors. Transplantation is often the only hope for these people suffering from organ failure.
The need for donated organs is far greater than the supply. You can save lives by deciding to be an organ donor. People who must wait for an organ from an anonymous donor live in limbo. They cannot predict whether they will live to receive an organ. A patient could get an organ donation tomorrow or wait several years. What a terrible waste to bury healthy organs rather than donate them to provide life to others in need.
Questions & Answers
To help you decide, here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about organ donation.
Q. How do I become an organ donor?
A. Complete a Uniform Donor Card and carry it with you at all times. Even more importantly, discuss your wishes with your family to ensure that your wishes will be carried out.
When family members know your wishes regarding donation, they can carry them out with peace of mind and generosity in their hearts. If they must face your death without knowing your wishes, making such a critical decision at a very difficult time is nearly impossible.
Organ donation is a family decision. Discuss it today.
Contact the TMA Knowledge Center at TMA Knowledge Center for a free donor sticker.
Q. Who can become an organ donor?
A. If you are 18 years of age or older, you may become a donor by signing a donor card in the presence of two witnesses and carrying it with you at all times. If you are under 18, you may become a donor if your parent or legal guardian gives consent.
Q. Will the quality of my medical care change if I am an organ donor?
A. Absolutely not. Organ donation is not even considered until all possible efforts to save a patient's life have failed. The criteria used to determine death are based on strict medical and legal standards. The determination of death must be made by doctors who are not involved in organ donation or transplantation.
Q. Do religious groups support organ donation?
A. Religious leaders around the world favor organ donation as the highest humanitarian ideal. This gift of life is consistent with the principles of most religious and ethical beliefs. If you have questions about your religion's position regarding organ donation, talk to your religious adviser.
Q. What organs and tissues can be donated?
A. One donor can benefit as many as 50 people. Needed organs include the heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver, and intestines. Tissues that can be transplanted to help others are heart valves, bone, bone marrow, skin, tendons, and corneas.
Q. Does organ donation affect funeral and burial arrangements?
A. No. The removal of organs and tissues is a sterile surgical procedure performed in the operating room, just as any surgery is done. Donation neither disfigures the body nor changes the way a person looks in a casket.
Q. What will happen to my donated organs?
A. A national system ensures the fair distribution of organs in the United States. The patients who will receive your organs and tissues will be identified based on many factors, such as blood type, length of time on the waiting list, severity of illness, and other medical criteria. Factors such as race, gender, age, income, or celebrity status are not considered when determining who receives an organ. Buying and selling organs is illegal.
Q. Is there any cost to my family for donation?
A. No. Donation costs nothing to the donor's family.
For More Information
The decision to become an organ donor is an important one. We have tried to provide answers to the questions you might have. If you have more questions or want more information on becoming an organ donor, contact one of the following organ procurement organizations:
LifeGift Organ Donation Center
5615 Kirby Dr., Suite 900
Houston, TX 77005
Texas Organ Sharing Alliance
8122 Datapoint Dr., Suite 1150
San Antonio, TX 78229
Southwest Transplant Alliance
3500 Maple Ave., Suite 800
Dallas, TX 75219
Live and Then Give is a cooperative initiative of
Texas Medical Association
Texas Medical Association Alliance
Texas Transplantation Society
Texas Medical Association Foundation