Iowans are being encouraged to sign up to be organ donors and to let their loved ones know they’ve done so and why.
Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health at the U-S Department of Health and Human Services, says it’s easy — and important — to register to become an organ, eye and tissue donor.
“Over 120,000 people are on waiting lists hoping for a chance at life-saving organ donation,” Dr. Koh says. “Nearly 2,000 of them are kids and tragically, every day in our country, some 18 people die on those waiting lists hoping for organ donation.”
This month, 578 Iowans are on waiting lists for transplants. Last year, 109 Iowans received transplants. While you may have checked the box to become an organ donor the last time you renewed your driver’s license, Koh says that’s not enough.
“The actual decision to donate is often made by a family member at the bedside about to lose a loved one,” Koh says. “That’s why it’s critically important for that family member to know what your intentions are. That’s why these discussions can be very sensitive when these decisions are not known ahead of time.”
Of the 578 Iowans on the transplant waiting list, almost 500 of them need a new kidney.
“These are issues that are effecting every state, every community and the numbers of people on waiting lists are only going up over time, not down, which is very, very troubling,” Koh says. “That’s why everybody needs to be informed and be told that they can make a difference.”
One donor, Koh says, can save as many as eight lives and help as many as 50 more people through corneal and tissue donations.
Learn more about the Iowa Donor Network at www.iowadonorregistry.org