Saturday, October 25, 2008

Organ donation rules should save more lives

By the Times-Mail editorial board

Some significant changes are coming next year in the way donated human organs are allocated.

The changes mark a bold departure from the previous method, but when all the issues are weighed, it’s a plan that makes sense.

The new approach will move those who have signed on to be organ donors to the top of the list if they are ever in need of receiving an organ. The move essentially will create an “A” list and “B” list. David Undis, executive director of the LifeSharers network of organ donors, reports, “All organs will be allocated first to people on the ‘A’ list. Organs will be made available to people on the ‘B’ list only if not needed by any registered organ donor.”

The United Network for Organ Sharing reported earlier this month the United States transplant waiting list had hit 100,000 people.

Undis suggested that, in response to the new plan, “just about everyone in the United States who was not already a registered organ donor would register. The supply of transplantable organs would go way up, and thousands of lives would be saved every year. Very few people would refuse to donate their organs when they died if they knew it would reduce their chances of getting a transplant should they ever need one to live.”

Every year, Americans bury or cremate 20,000 transplantable organs. And, every year, more than 8,000 Americans die because there aren’t enough organs for everyone who needs one.

Other organ donor statistics are disturbing. For instance, every year about 7,000 people are removed from the national transplant waiting list because they died waiting. In 2007, there were 28,358 organ transplants in the United States, but 48,405 people were added to the transplant waiting list. In the past 10 years, about 85,000 people have died because there weren’t enough organs to transplant.

UNOS deserves credit for taking steps to increase the number of transplantable organs that do indeed give recipients renewed lives.

Steve Calandrillo, a professor at the University of Washington Law School, is entirely correct in his assessment of the matter. He said, “It is a fundamental issue of fairness that people who agree to donate organs should get priority if they need one. Thousands of people are dying needlessly every year — not because life-saving organs don’t exist, but because we don’t incent people properly to make them available in the first place.”

The coming changes force Americans to rethink their organ donor decisions. People can act immediately to become a registered donor. Those willing to donate their organs to other registered organ donors can express that interest by visiting or by calling (888) 674-2688.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network
For other Canadian provinces click here

In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov

Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants. One tissue donor can help up to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

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