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Give the Gift of Life This November

April 17, 2024

 

Did you know April is National Donate Life Month? Every year, this month is designated as a time to recognize the people who have registered to donate their organs, the people who have donated them and the transplant recipients whose lives have been saved by donor organs. On average, around 14,000 deceased persons donate their organs each year, and around 6,000 living donors give kidneys or partial livers to others. However, an estimated 100,000 people are awaiting a transplant in the U.S. on any given day. Signing up to be an organ donor—and considering living donation, if you are able to—is the best way to help.

How You Can Be an Organ Donor

If you’re a Texas resident 18 or older, it’s easy to register as an organ donor. (People 17 and younger can also register, but they will need a parent or guardian to affirm donation decisions.) More than 13 million Texans are registered organ donors. That means that if your organs are still viable after you die, a hospital has the option of saving and transplanting them into another person. In addition to vital organs such as your heart, lungs, kidneys and liver, it is also possible to transplant tissues and eyes from a donor's body.

Registering to become an organ donor is quick and easy. There are several ways to sign up: 

  • Check the box to be an organ donor when you get a driver’s license, renew your vehicle registration, or get a hunting or fishing license.

  • Print out a form and submit it by mail or fax to Donate Life Texas.

  • Register online.

  • Register on the MedID tab in the iPhone Health App.


Once you officially become an organ donor, your driver’s license or state ID will have a red heart on it. 

Living Donation Is an Option

About 85% of patients on the transplant list need kidneys, which can be donated by a healthy person to a loved one or a stranger. Although donating a kidney is a major surgery, most people recover well. The human body can process all its waste with just one kidney. 

Living liver donations are not as common as kidney donations, but they save lives quickly—there’s no dialysis for patients whose livers are failing. Liver donors give only half of their organ, which will regenerate to its full size in just a few months. The transplant recipient’s liver also regenerates to its full size.

Living donors will go through both medical and psychological testing to ensure they are physically and mentally healthy enough to undergo donation. The organ will also be extensively checked to make sure there is no evidence of disease. Most people are back to normal activities within six to 12 weeks after surgery.

Paired Donations: When You’re Not a Match

Most people who become living donors are doing it for a relative or a close friend, although some choose to donate anonymously to anyone who needs a transplant. For a successful organ donation, your blood type and other biomarkers must match the recipient. But even with siblings or parents and children, matching isn’t given.

In these cases, paired donation can facilitate the process. An example of a paired donation is when you donate your kidney to a stranger who is a match, and their would-be donor gives their kidney to your loved one. Often, paired donation swaps take more than two sets of donors to find matches for everyone—but that also means even more people get kidneys, and you get to participate in something that helps your loved one and other people as well.

St. Luke’s Health Is Your Transplant Partner

Whether you need an organ donation or want to learn more about being a living donor, you can trust St. Luke’s Health. The Transplant Center at Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center has a long history of groundbreaking transplant medicine and successful outcomes.

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