The continuing education display at Grant Memorial Hospital's D Wing entrance for April features Donate Life. April is Donate Life month and celebrates both donors and recipients.
Each day 18 people nationwide die waiting for an organ. Hundreds of West Virginians are waiting for organ, cornea and tissue transplants that will enable them to have a second chance at a healthy productive future.
Everyone has the power to save a life by becoming a donor at the time of death. One person can potentially save up to eight lives through organ donation and heal more than 50 others through tissue and cornea donations.
Living donations to others are also possible for those needing a kidney, lung, intestine, pancreas or partial liver transplant. Currently there are 464,104 designated donors in West Virginia.
Last year in the U.S. approximately 8,000 deceased donors made possible nearly 22,000 organ transplants. In addition there were more than 6,000 transplants from living donors. More than 40,000 sight-restoring corneal transplants were performed and there were approximately 30,000 tissue donors.
Tissue is needed to replace bone, tendons and ligaments lost to trauma, cancer and other diseases in order to improve strength, mobility and independence. Corneas are needed to restore sight. Skin grafts help burn patients heal and often mean the difference between life and death. Heart valves repair cardiac defects and damage. Charleston Area Medical Center is the only transplant center in West Virginia. They do kidney transplants.
People of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential donors, however, general age limit for eye and tissue donation is 80. If one is under 18, a parent or guardian will need to give written permission to have the donor designation placed on a drivers license or photo ID. The commitment to being a donor will not interfere with medical care. Donations become an option only after all lifesaving efforts have been made. Consent for donation must be confirmed and family members will be asked to participate in the process by providing the donor's medical history. The family cannot override the donor's decision. Medical condition at death will determine what organs and tissues can be donated.
There is no cost to the donor's family or estate for donation. The donor family pays only for medical expenses before death and costs associated with funeral arrangements. Donation should not delay or change funeral arrangements. An open casket funeral is possible. The donation of organs, corneas and tissue is looked upon by all major religions as an unselfish act of charity.
Organs are distributed based upon medical information like blood type, body size, tissue type matching through a national computer network operated by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). It is illegal to distribute organs based on non-medical information such as wealth, citizenship or celebrity status. Tissue is distributed based upon patient need, availability and medical criteria. In the United States it is illegal to buy or sell organs or tissue for transplantation.
There are two ways to become a donor, go online at www.donatelifewv.org, or check yes for organ and tissue donation when you get or renew your driver's license or photo ID. CORE, the Center for Organ Recovery and Education, is one of 59 federally designated entities in the Unites States known as a not-for-profit organ procurement organization (OPO). CORE provides donate life support and education to 155 hospitals in their region. Grant Memorial Hospital is affiliated with CORE.
To learn more about CORE go to www.core.org.
The public is welcome to visit GMH and view the Donate Life display. If any organization would like to have a Donate Life program presented call the GMH Community Service Office at 304-257-5806.