“Garden of Life” is the 2021 theme of National Donate Life Month, an annual event established in 2003 by Donate Life America and partnering organizations. April is a time to learn how to register as an organ, eye, and tissue donor, as well as a time to honor those whose lives have been saved by the gift of donation.
Facts About Organ Donation and Transplantation
Following are facts that highlight the need for donations:
- 114,927 patients are on the transplant waiting list, most of whom (95 percent) need a kidney or liver
- 650,000 Americans face end-stage renal disease
- 468,000 Americans are on dialysis
- About 150 people are added to the national waiting list each day, which equals one every 10 minutes
- Approximately 98 organ transplants take place each day in the United States
- More than 1 million tissue transplants occur each year
- Corneal transplants restore sight to 50,000 people a year
Before transplant patients are placed on a waiting list to find a match, they often must provide proof they can pay for their percentage of the transplant surgery that is part of their insurance copay. Costs can be insurmountable.
The following are estimated billed charges for transplant surgeries, according to the 2020 Milliman Research Report:
- Heart: $1.67 million
- Lung (single): $929,600
- Lung (double): $1.30 million
- Liver: $878,400
- Kidney: $442,500
- Pancreas: $408,800
- Bone marrow: $1.07 million
- Cornea: $32,500
In addition, wait times can be as much as years, as shown in the following list:
- Heart transplants: 213 days
- Lung transplants: 186 days
- Intestine transplants: 224 days
- Liver transplants: 236 days
- Kidney transplants: 685 days
- Pancreas transplants: 289 days
On top of these costs are expenses such as pre-transplant procedures, hospitalization, travel to and from transplant centers, dialysis, and additional medications, such as anti-rejection drugs. Also, patients may be required to provide financial proof that they can maintain the organ after surgery. If a patient cannot afford the additional medical care, they may be denied the transplant.
Helping Out Financially
Financial donations can help offset the costs of transplants for patients. Online financial contributions or donations of vehicles can be made through the Donate Life California website. You may also indirectly donate by signing up on AmazonSmile so that a portion (0.5 percent) of all Amazon purchases will go to the Donate Life campaign.
Volunteers are also needed to share stories and spread the word about organ and tissue donation in the community. Sign up on the Volunteer page of the Donate Life California website.
How to Donate Life
Most organ and tissue donations occur after a donor is deceased, but, with a waiting list of 21,000 people in California, most of whom need kidney transplants, there is a great need for living donors as well. For more information, and to find out if you may be an eligible donor, contact the Living Donation California website.
Organs are allocated according to medical need, blood and tissue type, and height and weight of donor and recipient. In California, anyone over the age of 13 can sign up to donate life, with a parent’s consent for minors.
For a list of FAQs on donation, including costs incurred (there is none to the donor or donor’s family) or what to do if you change your mind, can be found on the Donate Life California website. Any questions you still might have may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To register as an organ or tissue donor in California, check the “Yes!” box on the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) form when applying for or renewing your driver license or identification card, or go to the sign-up page on Donate Life California and either fill in the form online or print out a paper form.
Herrick Library Resources
The following items can be requested and checked out from Herrick Library via curbside pickup:
- Borrowing Life: How Scientists, Surgeons, and a War Hero Made the First Successful Organ Transplant a Reality, by Shelley Fraser Mickle
- Hundreds of Interlaced Fingers: A Kidney Doctor’s Search for the Perfect Match, by Vanessa Grubbs
- Kinsey’s Kidney Adventure: A Story of Love, Compassion, and Humanity, by Nadine Morsi (picture book)
- Transplanting Hope (documentary DVD)
- When Death Becomes Life: Notes from a Transplant Surgeon, by Joshua Mezrich
Sources: Donate Life America, April Is National Donate Life Month, https://www.donatelife.net/ndlm/; Donate Life California, https://donatelifecalifornia.org/; Milliman Research Report, 2020 U.S. Organ and Tissue Transplants: Cost Estimates, Discussion, and Emerging Issues, https://milliman-cdn.azureedge.net/-/media/milliman/pdfs/articles/2020-us-organ-tissue-transplants.ashx; National Foundation for Transplants, Get Informed, https://transplants.org/get-informed/?gclid=CjwKCAjwgOGCBhAlEiwA7FUXkssgTM1_LfRzaz32gbqwTdnoFtvlhgCmZNFK_VmU6KmZBTFR3LEXPhoCC28QAvD_BwE;