February is perhaps best known for its Valentines Day holiday — but that’s not the only notable event happening. Every year National Donor Day also takes place on February 14th and is dedicated to raising awareness and sharing details about all types of donation.
While sometimes overshadowed by all of the heart-shaped chocolates and red roses, the life-saving donations being celebrated on National Donor Day represent one of the most selfless acts of love possible. This day of observance honors all donors and recipients, as well as those still on the waitlist for a transplant and anyone who has passed away because they did not receive a donation in time.
Donations are nothing short of a miracle for many people across the US, but becoming a donor can be a big decision. Here are some additional details about the two primary ways to donate.
One of the most common ways to donate is at a blood drive. Whether conducted by the Red Cross or a local hospital, blood donations are an incredibly important part of modern medicine. Doctors rely on having access to supplemental blood supply to counteract any blood loss during treatment. Emergency situations will also often result in blood loss, so having blood of all types readily available is essential.
Blood is considered a living donation, because donors are still alive both before and after the donation process. There are many other types of donations that a living person can make, but blood is one of the most popular because it doesn’t require any invasive procedures and is relatively quick and painless.
Living donations can be made for both kidneys and tissue. People typically have two kidneys, but only need one to survive — so the other one can be given to someone in need. Birth tissue can also be donated directly after delivering a newborn. Since things like the placenta, amniotic fluid, and different membranes are no longer of use, this donation can be used for reconstructive procedures with no impact on the health of the baby or donor.
Many people choose to make a living donation to a family member or close friend. However, it can be difficult to find a good medical match, so many patients must wait on a transplant list — and over 85% of those waiting are in need of a kidney. Generally, good overall health is needed to donate and kidney donations do require both parties to undergo surgery, which is associated with risks. Donate Life America offers a closer look at the full process.
When someone passes away, there is a small window of time where certain organs still have enough oxygen in them to operate. Due to these requirements, most deceased donations come from people who have died as a result of a brain injury due to trauma, for instance in an accident.
Only after every life-saving effort has been made on a patient and brain death has been declared, is a donation possible. At this point, viable organs can be used for transplants so long as the individual is a registered donor. If they are not, the next of kin is able to authorize a donation following their death.
Although this process is rooted in tragedy, it brings many people some comfort knowing that they can do something good for others, even in death. For many families too, it provides some solace knowing that a piece of their loved one is still alive in someone else.
While most deaths will not fit the criteria for this procedure, registering as an organ donor while still alive can become a life-saving decision in the right circumstances. You can sign up online and find more information through Donate Life America.