Love it or hate it health care reform is here and it's bringing massive changes to America's health insurance system.
That could mean changes for the way our country approaches organ donation too. The reform plan extends health insurance to millions of Americans who don't have any sort of coverage right now.
With that insurance lifesaving organ transplants could soon be available to thousands of Americans who simply can't afford them right now.
Depending on the organ costs can exceed a million dollars according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. Without insurance not only is funding your transplant unlikely so are your chances of making the list.
Despite Isabel Fermin Desangles husband's death the medical bills keep coming. "We found out February 16th that he needed a liver transplant."
Her husband, Raul Desangles, never got the chance to have a liver transplant. Isabel said it wasn't because of the short period it took for liver failure to claim his life, but because a recent job loss left them without health insurance. "I don't want anyone living with this wonder I have. I wonder if Raul had health insurance if he would be alive."
Currently, more than 100,000 people wait for a transplant, but there are less than 15,000 donors every year. This leaves officials at transplant centers with the tough task of deciding who gets an organ. "It's a scarce commodity. There's not enough organs to go around. It seems hard and cruel. We'd love to transplant everyone, but we just can't," said Sue Miller of the Nebraska Medical Center.
Each of the just 256 organ transplant centers across the country has its own set of criteria for making the list. For many ability to pay is taken into consideration. With a potential million dollar procedure someone has to foot the bill. "It's hard to say things should be paid for. It's easy to say that, but I can understand it's hard to accomplish that. In a perfect world everyone's procedures should be paid for," said Raul's son Chris Desangles.
According to a report by ABC News, one in four willing to donate their organs don't have insurance. This means despite their willingness to give many could never receive. "I'm still a donor, but I want to find out how my organs are going to be used," said Isabel.
It should be noted not every transplant center turns away those unable to pay.
“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Register to be an organ and tissue donor & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Register to be a donor in Ontario or Download Donor Cards from Trillium Gift of Life Network. NEW for Ontario: recycleMe.org - Learn The Ins & Outs Of Organ And Tissue Donation. Register Today! For other Canadian provinces click here
In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at ShareYourLife.org or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov
In Great Britain, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
In Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save up to eight lives with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help 75 to 100 other people by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves
Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You