This article is from the Organ Transplant FAQ, by firstname.lastname@example.org (Michael Holloway) with numerous contributions by others.
The donation of organs is a unique opportunity to save lives. It is
possible for the organs, tissues, and corneas of a single donor to save
or help as many as 25 people.
Transplantation works. As of 1993, over 160 thousand people have been
transplanted, and the majority are living full productive lives more than
five years after surgery.
Over 28,000 people in the United States, many of them children under 10
years of age, are currently waiting for transplants, and someone is added
to the waiting list every 30 minutes. Many will die waiting.
All potential recipients are listed on the United Network for Organ
Sharing, UNOS, computer. Organs are assigned as they become available
considering the severity of a patient's condition, medical requirements
(such as blood type, size, and tissue match), proximity to the available
organ, and time on the waiting list.
More organ donors are needed. Only about 20% of the potential donors
actually have their organs donated.
Organ donors are healthy people who have died suddenly, usually through
accident or head injury. They are brain dead. The organs are kept alive
through mechanical means.
No one involved with the life saving care of an individual is involved in
the transplantation or organ recovery process. No one on the transplant
team has any role in the diagnosis, treatment or declaration of death of
Organs for transplant must be made available soon after death. Organ
removal will not take place without the permission of the next of kin.
Therefore, the decision to donate should have been discussed earlier and
the next of kin should understand and be prepared to carry out their
loved one's wishes. This is the heart of DONOR AWARENESS.
There is no cost or payment to the donor family or estate. All normal
funeral arrangements are possible.
All religious groups approve of organ and tissue donation as charitable
acts toward one's fellow human beings.
Organ donation is a true gift. In general, the donor family will never
know the recipient. They do know that out of their tragic loss, they
have given others life and health.