More Organs Are Needed
There are more than 80,000 adults and children in the United States with kidney failure. In North Carolina alone, there are over 2,100 people with kidney failure. Although most can be treated by the artificial kidney machine, for many, especially the children, the only means of regaining a normal lifestyle is a successful transplant. Sight could be restored to 20 percent of all blind Americans by a corneal transplant. Although 23,500 corneal transplants were performed last year over 3,500 people still await the gift of sight.
So More People Can Live
Recent advances in immunology and surgery make it possible to transplant many types of tissues and organs, such as lungs, pancreas, bone marrow, tendons, heart valves, cartilage and bone. In fact, the first and most successful transplant is blood. In North Carolina last year, there were hundreds of residents severely burned. Many were fortunate to have their lives saved by the generous gift of skin donated at the time of someone's death.
No form of therapy has had as dramatic an effect on the course of terminal illness as has transplantation. Kidney and heart transplantations currently have graft survival rates of more than 70 percent. Corneal grafts are 90 percent successful.
The greater the number of donors, the better the chance for finding well matched, high quality organs and tissue that will make longer survival possible.
Q&A About Organ Donation and Transplantation
Q: How can I become a donor?
A: The Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, which has been passed in all 50 states, makes it possible for anyone to donate organs and/or tissue by completing a Uniform Donor Card. It is advisable to discuss organ and tissue donation with your family, since the next-of-kin can give permission for donation. Donor cards are available from Carolina Organ Procurement Agency, the North Carolina Eye and Human Tissue Bank, and your local driver's licensing bureau. Shumate-Faulk Funeral Home can assist you in all steps of organ donation.
Q: Can anyone sign a donor card?
A: Anyone 18 years of age or older can sign a donor card. Persons under 18 must have either a parent or legal guardian as one of the witnesses on the card.
Q: What about age or previous medical history? A: Anyone can sign a donor card, regardless of age or physical conditions. The suitability of donated organs and/or tissue for transplant will be determined at the time of death.
Q: What can I donate?
A: You can donate:
1. All organs and tissues
2. Specific organs and tissues only
3. Your entire body for medical research
Note: For information on donating your entire body, call or write the medical school of your choice.
Q: Will my estate be paid or have to pay, for organ donation?
A: No additional costs are incurred by the organ donor or heirs. It is against the law to buy or sell organs and/or tissues.
Q: What about funeral costs or burial arrangements
A: Removal of organs and tissues will not interfere with customary funeral or burial services. Regular funeral costs, memorial services or burial arrangements remain the responsibility of relatives or persons in charge of the estate.
Q: How are organs distributed?
A: Donor and recipient information is entered into a computer. The computer matches the compatibility of the donor and potential recipients. Organs and tissues are shared locally, then nationwide if there are no local recipients. Social or financial position is not a factor in selecting a recipient.
Q: What about religion and transplantation?
A: Authorities of all major religions have indicated that organ donation is sanctioned by the life-giving traditions of each respective religion. If you have any doubts, please consult your clergyman.
Q: Is there any possible conflict between saving my life and using my organs for transplantation?
A: This conflict simply does not exist. Physicians having an interest in transplantation cannot participate in decisions regarding the donor until after death is pronounced.