Wait for Life-Saving Donations

By: Sabrina Wu
By: Sabrina Wu

Many families have to watch someone they love grow sick, as they wait for an organ-donor. Thousands of people with kidney disease spend hours at dialysis clinics to have the toxins cleaned out of their blood.

Doctors say many wait nearly four years.

"There's only 15,000 cadaveric kidneys," said Dr. Kenneth Kellner, a nephrologist in Wausau. "In other words, sudden death, young and healthy people in motor vehicle accidents for instance, where they sign the donor card. It's very common for the patient not to survive that wait, unfortunately."

More than 60 people in Wisconsin are on a waiting list for a kidney. In addition to signing the back of a drivers license, people have to make sure their families know they want their organs donated.

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Organ and Tissue Donors

Each day about 63 people receive an organ transplant, but another 16 people on the waiting list die because not enough organs are available.

Talk to your family members about organ and tissue donation so they know your wishes.

Organ Donation Frequently Asked Questions

Who can become a donor

  • All individuals can indicate their intent to donate (persons under 18 years of age must have parent's or guardian's consent).

Are there age limits for donors?

  • There are no age limitations on who can donate. The deciding factor on whether a person can donate is the person’s physical condition, not the person’s age.

  • Newborns as well as senior citizens have been organ donors.

How do I express my wishes to become an organ donor?

  • Indicate your intent to be an organ and tissue donor on your driver’s license.

  • Carry an organ donor card.

  • Most importantly, discuss your decision with family members and loved ones.

What can be donated?

  • Organs: heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver, and intestines

  • Tissue: cornea, skin, bone marrow, heart valves, and connective tissue

Are there any costs to my family for donation?

  • The donor’s family does not pay for the cost of the organ donation. All costs related to donation of organs and tissues are paid by the recipient, usually through insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.

How are the organ distributed?

  • Patients are matched to organs based on a number of factors including blood and tissue typing, medical urgency, time on the waiting list, and geographical location.

Current Waiting List – As of July 19, 2002

  • Kidney Transplant – 52,766
  • Liver Transplant - 17,543
  • Pancreas Transplant - 1,329
  • Intestine Transplant - 192
  • Heart Transplant - 4,134
  • Heart-Lung Transplant - 210
  • Lung Transplant - 3,782

Source: http://www.organdonor.gov/ (U.S. Government Organ Donation Web site)

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