It’s not a pleasant topic, but one expert says eyes are one of the easiest organs to salvage from a person who’s died and transplant into someone else to save their sight. Cindy Reed, director of the Iowa Lions Eye Bank at the University of Iowa says plenty of Iowans say they’d like to be organ donors if something happens to them, but just saying so isn’t enough. Reed says most people are familiar with checking off on their drivers license whether they want to be an organ donor, but in Iowa, “unfortunately, we didn’t connect all the dots” as just giving consent on that D-O-T form doesn’t clear the way for your organs, eyes and tissues to be donated. Reed says they’re working to correct the loophole but she says Iowans should talk to their loved ones about their wishes so they’ll know. She also says to go to the website, “www.iowadonornetwork.org” and sign up there to be a donor. Reed says the number of donors has fallen in recent years. Last year, there were 534 eye donors statewide, down from more than 600 donors in 2003. Reed says part of the reason for the drop is that they’re only notified when people die at a hospital. People aren’t going to hospitals to die as much as they used to, but are dying instead in assisted living facilities, nursing homes and in hospices — none of which are required to notify the organ donor network of the deaths. Reed says when family members don’t know about your wishes, if the worst should happen, your organs may be buried with you instead of helping several other people. She says it’s a tough thing to bring up with a family for the first time when they’re in a crisis. She says it’s a personel decision, and they want people to consider what they’d like to do. At last count, 364 Iowans were on a waiting list for organs, more than 87-thousand are waiting nationwide. Reed say there’s a false myth that organ donation is painful for the donor’s family. In fact, she says studies show that donation most often provides immediate and long-term consolation for grieving family members.
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