While you read these words, it’s probable that someone new has landed on the list of people waiting for an organ donation. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, it happens every 10 minutes.
Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, is also National Donor Day. An average of 79 people receive organ transplants every day, but an average of 18 people die each day while waiting for transplants that never happen due to the shortage of donated organs.
HHS says anyone, regardless of age or medical history, can sign up to be a donor. Even if you feel you are very old and sick, it is possible a donation from you can help someone else. A person can save up to eight lives through organ donation and improve the lives of many others through tissue donation. In 2011, more than 2,200 of people between 50 and 64 years old donated organs; nearly 600 donors were older than 65. Also during 2011, two thirds of those waiting for an organ donation were 50 years or older.
It is not hard to register as a donor, but the process is unique to each state in the U.S. To learn how to register in your state, visit http://www.organdonor.gov/becomingdonor/stateregistries.html.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to take other steps so your loved ones know what your wishes are after you pass away. This could be through a living will or a simple conversation with your family. For more information, we encourage you to read Homewatch CareGivers’ Guide to the Legal and Financial Planning Needs of Seniors.