While you probably understand when someone passes away, they have the ability to give the ultimate gift of organ, eye and tissue, but what you may not realize is that it's also possible to help others by being a living organ donor. These life saving gifts are safe for both the donor and recipient. If you’re interested in being a living donor, read on to learn more.
What Is Living Donation?
A living donor is exactly what it sounds like, a healthy person who is able to donate an organ or portion of an organ. Living organ donation accounts for four out of every ten organ transplants in the United States. When you make this decision, it can be for an acquaintance, family member, friend or altruistically to a stranger.
Which Organs Can be Donated by a Living Donor?
There are several organs that can be donated by a living donor:
- Kidney- The most needed organ transplant. This gift allows a recipient to discontinue dialysis and live a "normal life" post transplant. The most common illnesses that lead to needing a kidney transplant are chronic kidney disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Most people are born with two kidneys, however, we only need one to live a healthy life. You may know Selena Gomez's story, her best friend donated one of her kidneys to save her life!
- Liver- Did you know our livers are able to regenerate? It is possible to donate a portion of your liver to another person and, in time, your liver regenerates back to normal size and the recipient's portion becomes full sized. Common illnesses that lead to liver transplant are biliary atresia, chronic hepatitis with cirrhosis, primary biliary cirrhosis and sclerosing cholangitis. After the transplant, grateful recipients live a normal, fully functioning life.
- Lung- While most donated lungs come from heroic donors after passing away, it is possible to donate a portion or entire lobe of a lung while a person is still living. The common illnesses that lead to needing a lung transplant are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, hypertension, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and idiopathic pulmonary arterial. After transplant, the majority of recipients have no limitations on physical activity.
Who Can Qualify to be a Living Donor?
Potential living donors must be between the ages of 18 and 60. It is important that they are in good health and without previous health issues such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and kidney disease. In order to match with a potential recipient, there are many medical tests that need to be completed to ensure health, matching blood type and more. The initial screening is non-invasive and simple.
How to Become a Living Donor
If you'd like to explore becoming a living donor, you should contact your local transplant center. Here in Nevada, our transplant center is UMC Center for Transplantation. After an initial screening, you may begin the process of being evaluated medically.
We hope this has inspired you to #BeAHero, like the many other living donors that have given the gift of life to someone else!
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