Today is April Fools’ Day, but my blog is not a joke. April 1 also begins National Organ Donor Awareness Month. How fitting when all of nature comes to life in the spring, that we think about giving the gift of life. A butterfly has been chosen as a symbol to represent that life-giving opportunity. The statistics are staggering and change minute by minute. There are approximately 113,000 people on the United Network for Organ Sharing waiting list. While 75 people each day receive a transplant, around 19 people die each day because of the organ shortage.
Depending on the type of transplant, over 50-75% of recipients survive more than five years. My sister, Audrey, and I received our liver transplants almost fifteen years ago next month, and I have a friend getting close to a twenty-five year survival rate.
Since the focus of my blog is on discarding the stereotypes of senior adults, here are some interesting statistics for seniors:
· According to the 2005 National Survey of Organ and Tissue Donation Attitudes and Behaviors, conducted by The Gallup Organization, roughly 20 percent of people over the age of 65 mistakenly think they are too old to donate an organ, while nearly 12 percent believe they are too old to receive one.
· Your age doesn’t make you ineligible to sign up; nor do you have to be in perfect health. Each person’s ability to donate is determined at the time of his or her death. People of all ages — in their 50s, 60s, even into their 80s and older — can sign up to be donors. And people over 50 can be eligible to receive transplants as well.
· According to the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, as of January 2010, there are 47,734 people between the ages of 50 and 64 and 17,689 people over the age of 65 on the national waiting list.
· More than 94 million individuals in the U.S. are 50 years of age and older. Imagine how many more lives could be saved if the majority of people in this age group signed up to be organ donors.
Donate Life America is the official site to register as an organ, eye, or tissue donor. Here is a link to their website: www.donatelife.net
I will always be thankful for a family, who in the midst of their grief over the loss of their daughter, made the decision to make life possible for me and four other people. One of my favorite sayings about transplantation is: “Don’t take your organs to heaven; heaven knows we need them here.”