April is National Donor Month, but a lot of people don’t understand what the process of organ donation is, nevertheless how important it is to the medical field today. Without organ donors, many patients wouldn’t survive, and, as medical professionals, we are grateful that so many people sign up to be organ donors every year. Do you know what organ donation entails? How does the process work? How do you know if you’re eligible to be a donor? How do you find a match?
Let’s run through some of these questions together, to learn more about this important medical practice.
First, someone must be registered as an organ donor, before their organs can be donated. The laws for organ registration can vary from state to state, which can be a bit tricky. If you’re interested in becoming an organ donor, then you will want to register with your home state. Registering does not guarantee that you will be able to donate your organs, but it will start the process for those interested in donating.
Some transplants, like kidney and liver transplants, can take place with the donor alive and well. These operations might take a few years after registration to take place. But, in the cast of vital organs, like hearts, transplants can only happen after the donor’s passing. These long timelines make becoming an organ donor complicated, because it is important to all doctors, hospitals, and states that donors have time to consider their situation.
Once a donor is registered, tests are taken to determine if blood type and other factors can match a donor to a patient in need. This matching process can take a very long time when an organ donor is donating to an unknown patient. When family members donate organs, the match process can sometimes be faster because of shared DNA. For many patients, they wait for the best match.
Most organ matches are made in local communities. It is much easier to transport a donated organ across a town or a city, than to transport it five states away.
While we here at The Colony ER Hospital, we do not assist in organ transplants, we understand and appreciate how important these surgeries are. They can literally be the difference between life and death for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, which makes it important that we all understand and value the organ donors that we have.
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