February 14th isn’t just Valentine’s Day, it’s also National Donor Day! Originally designated in 1998 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Saturn Corporation and its United Auto Workers, this day aims to raise awareness for organ, eye, tissue, marrow, platelet and blood donation. Here are some important facts about organ and blood donation:
Now that you know the facts, you may be wondering if you qualify as a donor. Luckily, there are very few factors that would impact your eligibility as a donor. Basically, anyone over the age of 18 can be registered as a donor regardless of age, race or medical history. Additionally, a healthy person can become a 'living donor' by donating a kidney, or a part of the liver, lung, intestine, blood or bone marrow. At death, a qualified health professional will assess the viability of the organs and decide whether they are suitable for a transplant.
In order to donate blood, you must be 17 and over, however some states allow you to donate at 16 with parental consent. Additionally, you must weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. Once you arrive at a blood donation center or hospital, you will be asked to fill out a registration and detail your medical history while also providing proper identification. You will receive a mini-physical before donating blood.
Once you find out if you’re qualified, the process of becoming a donor couldn’t be easier. If you already have your driver’s license or about to renew, you can fill out an organ donor card that shows you're agreeing to donate all or some of your organs if you die. You can also register with your state's donor registry at OrganDonor.gov. For blood donations, go to the American Red Cross website and find your local blood donation center. Make a new appointment or manage an existing appointment. You can also find out the different types of blood donations, like whole blood, platelet, plasma, and power red and what is most needed on that day.
Why is it important to be a donor?
Organ and blood donations save lives. Even though 156 million people in the U.S. are registered as donors, each day an estimated 20 people die waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. There is simply no replacement for blood or organ tissue, which makes donors even more important. Additionally, there is no cost to a donor’s family for donating organs and tissues. While we admit it is an uncomfortable subject to think about, thinking becoming an organ donor is as important as making a will. Have a sit-down with your family to discuss your options to be better prepared for the future.
For action, you can take right now this Valentine’s Day, consider donating blood. The whole process takes about 30 minutes, which means you could donate blood on your lunch break! Blood donations save people who have suffered trauma, cancer patients, patients with chronic diseases, and more. If you’re wary of needles, go with a family or friend to support you through the process. Give a lot more than chocolate or flowers this holiday by donating the gift of life. What’s better than that?
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