October 22, 2014

Report ranks Iowa #4 in USA for organ donors

A new survey ranks Iowa among the top states in the nation for organ and tissue donors. Tony Hakes, at the Iowa Donor Registry, says Iowans are known for helping each other in times of need, so the ranking is a big complement.

A heart or a set of lungs need to be transplanted within four to six hours, so Hakes says they’ll try to find what’s called a “critical needs match” locally first.

“So if someone passes away here in Iowa City and they’re a heart donor, we try to allocate that heart to someone in the area who is most in need,” Hakes says. “If they can’t find someone that is a critical need match in this area, they’ll offer it up statewide. Can’t find a critical need match statewide? They’ll offer it up to Zone 8 which is basically the border states.”

Some organs, like kidneys, can be kept viable for up to 48 hours. Hakes, the donor network’s community development supervisor, says it’s easy for Iowans to make it known they’d like to be donors.

“It just came out that Iowa is #4 in the nation as far as number of people that are registered as organ and tissue donors, percentagewise,” Hakes says. “We have about 1.8-million registered organ and tissue donors which is terrific. That’s great for a state of roughly 3-million people.”

There are about 600 Iowans on the waiting list for various organs, with kidneys being in the most demand. Nationwide, there are 125,000 people waiting. Hakes says it’s an important decision to make.

“We always encourage people to register as organ and tissue donors,” Hakes says. “Mark ‘yes’ on your driver’s license and make sure your family knows and understands your wishes and you know and understand their wishes. If you have ‘no’ on your license, you can certainly change that when you go to renew or log on to iowadonorregistry.org and change your status there.”