By Alicia Lacy
Killeen Daily Herald
Every 13 minutes a new person is added to the national waiting list for an organ transplant, and every day 17 people die waiting.
As of Wednesday, in the United States, 105,611 people are waiting for an organ transplant to save their lives, according to information from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.
Of those patients, more than 7,000 are Texans, the Glenda Dawson Donate Life-Texas Registry, the official state organ, tissue and eye donor registry, states.
Not only was Sunday a day to celebrate love with Valentine's Day, but Sunday also marked National Donor Day.
Saturn Corp. and its United Autoworkers partners, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other nonprofit health agencies created National Donor Day in 1998.
In 2005, Texas legislators created the state registry where people can indicate their intention to be an organ donor when they die.
The registry is funded by $1 voluntary contributions that can be made when applying for and renewing driver's licenses, state IDs or vehicle registration.
A heart symbol on a state driver's license or ID indicates the person's intent to be a donor at the time of death.
Who can donate?
Anyone can register to be tissue and organ donors, regardless of age and medical history, with the exception of individuals who are HIV positive, or have active cancer or systemic infections.
There is no legal age limit to be a donor.
Medical professionals will determine at the time of donation which organs and tissues are viable for an organ or tissue transplant.
Organs can be donated from newborns and older. According to Donate Life Texas, tissue and organs have been recovered from individuals who are older than 80 years old.
What can be donated?
Organs like the heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver and intestines can be donated, and tissues like corneas, the middle ear, skin, bone, heart valves, veins, ligaments and tendons can be donated.
According to Donate Life Texas, up to 50 people can benefit from a single tissue donor and up to eight lives from a single organ donor.
Types of donations
Though most organ and tissue donations occur after the donor is dead, donations can be made from living donors.
A living individual can donate a kidney, part of the pancreas, part of a lung, part of the liver, or part of the intestine.
Donors can choose to donate their whole body after death to science.
Other types of donations
In addition to organ, tissue and eye donations, individuals can register to be a bone marrow, blood, platelet, plasma or blood stem cell donor.
However, there are more guidelines for blood donations.
"Every two seconds, someone in America needs blood – more than 39,000 units each day," according to information from the American Red Cross.
Blood can be separated into three parts: blood, platelets and plasma, each with a separate lifesaving use.
Because blood and platelets are continuously replaced throughout life, it is safe to donate blood every 56 days and platelets twice in one week up to 24 times a year.
Adults between 18 and 60 years old can donate blood stem cells; however, for a blood stem cell transplant to be successful, the donor must have closely matched tissue.
Blood stem cells include marrow, peripheral blood stem cells or umbilical cord blood stem cells.
Mothers can donate the baby's umbilical cord blood stem cells at birth.
According to the Department of Health and Human Service, the blood stem cells in an umbilical cord can be used to treat more than 70 diseases by replacing damaged cells with healthy ones.
Umbilical cord blood stem cells can treat several illnesses such as leukemia and lymphoma.
For more information on how to become an organ or tissue donor, go to donatelifetexas.org.
For information on how to become a marrow donor, go to marrow.org.
To donate umbilical blood stem cells after birth, contact the medical facility where the birth is to take place.