Approximately 113,000 people are waiting to receive an organ transplant, and a new person is added to the list every 10 minutes. For these people, receiving a new organ can be a life-changing event. Unfortunately, there are fewer donor organs available than there are people waiting.
The Children's Health℠ Pediatric Transplant Program team answers some of the most common questions surrounding organ donation, providing the facts and statistics that show its life-saving importance.
Why is organ donation important?
Each year, about 2,050 children across the country wait for an organ transplant. The wait can last weeks, months or even years. In Texas alone, there are over 190 kids waiting for a transplant. Many of these children live and wait in a hospital or visit a hospital several times a week to receive treatment while they wait for a transplant. Many kids on the transplant waitlist may not be able to attend school, play or participate in the same activities healthy children do.
The act of organ donation saves lives. In fact, one organ donor can save up to eight lives and improve many other lives by donating eye and bone tissue.
Why would a child need an organ transplant?
Children who are on an organ waitlist typically have end-stage organ disease that significantly impacts their quality of life and may be near the end of their life. Receiving an organ can become a life-changing event that can add years or decades to their life. Children who need an organ transplant may have conditions such as:
- Biliary Atresia
- Congenital heart disease
- Cystic fibrosis
- Chronic kidney disease
- Kidney failure
- Liver failure
- Liver tumor
With organ donation, many of the patients with these conditions can go on to live healthy, long lives.
What organs can be donated?
Organs and tissue that can be donated for transplantation include:
- Cornea (eye)
- Tissue (such as skin, tendons and bones)
Most organ donation happens after the donor has died. But living organ donation is growing and an important part of organ donation.
What is living organ donation?
In living organ donation, the donor is alive when they give an organ. Living donors must be over the age of 18. Living organ donors can donate:
- A lung
- One kidney
- A portion of the liver, pancreas or intestine
Living donors can also donate tissue such as skin, blood and bone marrow cells.
Living organ donation started because of the critical shortage of deceased donors. Living donation dramatically reduces wait time for patients who need an organ donation. It also helps them receive a healthy organ and helps take them off the waiting list, making room for the next person in line to receive an organ, too.
What are some of the myths about organ donation?
Organ donation saves lives. And while organ donation awareness is growing, misconceptions still exist. The Pediatric Transplant team clarifies some of the more common myths about organ donation:
Myth: As an adult, if I donate my organs, they can only go to an adult.
Truth: You can make a difference in a child's life. Adults can give organs or part of an organ to a child in need through deceased donation and, in some instances living donation.
Myth: If I agree to donate my organs, the hospital team will not try to save my life.
Truth: The hospital team is dedicated to saving your life. It is only after a person has died and tests are completed to prove death, that any discussions about organ donation are undertaken.
Myth: I have to be deceased to donate my organs.
Truth: If you are over the age of 18, you have the potential to become a living donor by donating a kidney or a portion of your liver.
How can I become an organ donor?
Almost everyone qualifies to become an organ donor. Very rarely, a medical condition may prevent you from donating your organs upon your death or keep you from becoming a living donor. If you would like to register as an organ donor, visit DonateLife.net.
Children's Health offers one of the longest-running, most experienced pediatric multi-organ transplant programs in the nation. Learn more about our Pediatric Transplant Program and services.
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