National Donate Life Month: The Growing Need for Organ Donors

In recognition of National Donate Life Month, throughout April we have turned our attention to a nationwide issue that we at HelpHOPELive hold near and dear to us, organ donation. According to UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing), there are currently over 120,000 individuals in the United States on a waiting list hoping to receive an organ transplant that could save their lives. This list, comprised of men, women and children of all ages, races and cultures, continues to grow, but the number of organ donors continues to fall short. For example, in 2009 there were only 28,463 transplants but 105,567 people on the waiting list.[1]

Why is there such a staggering deficiency of donors? Well, as Dr. Chris Barry, a transplant surgeon at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said in his TED Talk, “Giving the Gift of Life Through Organ Donation,” organ donation can be an “icky” thing to think about.[2] It may make some of us uncomfortable to consider the removal of internal organs. Others express a religious exception, or fear the procedure is a “mutilation” of some sort, but in reality organ donation is sanctioned by all major religions, and open-casket funerals are possible after all manners of organ donation.[3]

Then there’s the cost issue. With living donors – people who want to give all or part of an organ to someone in need – some transplantation expenses are covered by insurance, but there are other uninsured costs that may be incurred. For example, a prospective donor may need to travel hundreds of miles for both preliminary appointments and the transplant itself, and any related costs including meals, lodging, travel accommodations all come directly out of the donor’s pockets.

These same types of expenses are incurred on the recipient’s side, and they can often be more severe when factoring in the funds required for long-term immunosuppressants and rehabilitation. In many cases, patients are required to prove they have their financials in order before they are even put on the waiting list for an organ. At HelpHOPELive, we want to make sure that transplant patients can receive the gift of life without suffering financially. We specialize in organizing and participating in community-based fundraising campaigns that give family, friends and neighbors an opportunity to be involved and to provide hope and assistance in a meaningful and tangible way. In addition to patient fundraising campaigns, our organization is also supported by individual donors whose funds help us maintain a staff for one-on-one patient consultation, develop educational and awareness materials, create online campaign sites, and distribute challenge grants. Continued support from individual donors will help us expand our reach and provide financial stability for more transplant patients and their families.

Organ donation is a life-saving procedure, but because the waiting list for an organ transplant grows longer every day, there is a dire need for more donors. Becoming a donor is as simple as checking one box, and can even be done online. This National Donate Life Month, let’s work together to raise awareness of the ever-growing need for organ donors, and provide assistance to those who need it most.

[1] “The Gap Continues to Widen.” US Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.

[2] “Giving the Gift of Life through Organ Donation: Chris Barry at TEDxFlourCity.” YouTube. YouTube, 11 Aug. 2012. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.

[3] “Learn the Facts.” Donate Life America. Donate Life America, n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2014.

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