April is designated as National Donate Life Month, a time when communities across the country generate attention to the mass shortage of organs and tissue for patients in need through various activities and events, and encourage individuals to become organ and tissue donors. Throughout the month, the public to help promote the need for registered organ, eye and tissue donors by signing up and spreading the word within their own personal networks.
According to data provided by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, there were 5,989 living donor transplants and 24,980 deceased donor transplants in 2015. In addition to organ transplants, more than 1 million tissue transplants are done each year and the surgical need for tissue has been steadily rising.
Teamsters Local 700 President Becky Strzechowski is an altruistic organ donor, having donated a kidney to a total stranger in 2011 through the National Kidney Registry and Loyola University Hospital’s Pay It Forward program. Currently in Illinois, there are 4,935 people on the waiting list to receive an organ transplant, of which 4,204 of those need a kidney.
“There is an overwhelming need for organ donors across the country and in our state,” said Local 700 President Becky Strzechowski. “While it might not be possible for everyone to become a living donor, we can all become heroes by making the choice to donate life to save someone else’s life down the road.”
Sign up to be an organ donor
The Illinois Secretary of State’s office created a website (linked through CyberDriveIllinois.com) called LifeGoesOn.com, where drivers can register themselves to be organ donors and learn about the statistics of organ donation in our state. Illinois drivers can also check the box to become an organ donor when renewing or first obtaining a driver’s license.
Preserving organs: Did you know?
Donated organs require special methods of preservation to keep them viable between the time of procurement and transplantation. Common maximum organ preservation times include:
- Kidney: 24-36 hours
- Pancreas: 12-18 hours
- Liver: 8-12 hours
- Heart or Lung: 4-6 hours
Donate Life America is a not-for-profit alliance of national organizations and state teams across the United States committed to increasing organ, eye, and tissue donation. To learn more about Donate Life America, visit donatelife.net.