More than 113,000 Americans are on a waiting list, hoping someone will donate the organ they need to resume a normal life or just remain alive.
America’s population is around 329.4 million, so 113,000 may not seem like many — unless you or a loved one are one of them.
On average, 20 people die each day in this country while awaiting a transplant.
The Times-News has on numerous occasions reported about those who need a transplant, received an organ or donated one.
Belinda Sullivan, and her husband and fellow musician/singer Fred Sullivan Jr., have for many years dedicated their lives to performing on behalf of those in need.
They participate in musical performances, walks, bike rides, food drives, door-to-door charity, tributes to fallen soldiers, hoagie sales and theatrical productions, but now Belinda is the one who needs help. (See: “Tireless giver now in need of kidney,” Aug. 26 Times-News, Page 1A.)
She was born with only one functional kidney, but it is failing and she needs a transplant.
In May, we reported that Evan Darr was named the recipient of the Averey Bridges Memorial Scholarship sponsored by Averey’s Changeup Foundation at Mountain Ridge High School.
The month before, we told you that Mountain Ridge beat University in the Averey Bridges Memorial softball tournament.
Who is Averey Bridges? Many people remember her with love and affection. Her name had been in the Times-News on numerous occasions as a star softball player at Mountain Ridge. She wanted to be a pediatrician, but died as the result of a traffic accident near Mexico Farms in 2015.
Her father, Craig Bridges, told our reporter Greg Larry that “She saved some lives as a result.” (See: “A father hopes his family’s tragedy might spare others,” Dec. 17, 2017, Times-News, Page 1A.)
“Averey wanted to be an organ donor,” he said. “They harvested her organs. A 12-year-old boy has her heart. A young girl has her lungs. They transplanted her liver, kidney, pancreas — everything they could. It was the perfect storm for donation,” he said.
One organ donor can save the lives of eight other people. If you’re not signed up to be an organ, eye or tissue donor, you should. There’s no reason not to do it, and your actions may save someone else’s life or improve it, even if you’re not around to know about it ... although you might be.
Most people think of organs being donated by those who are dead and from whom kidneys, lungs, a liver, heart, pancreas, corneas and other tissues can be taken. Hands and even faces can be transplanted.
However, living donors can give someone else a kidney or lung, blood stem cells and bone marrow or a portion of the liver, pancreas or intestine — sometimes to a family member or even someone they don’t know — and continue to live a normal life.
Maryland law now prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against living organ donors.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website (www.organdonor.gov) says this about becoming an organ donor.
• Anyone, regardless of age or medical history, can donate. The transplant team determines at an individual’s death whether donation is possible. Even with an illness, someone may be able to donate organs or tissues.
• There’s no age limit. What matters is the health and condition of people’s organs when they die.
• Most major religions in the United States support organ donation and consider it the final act of love and generosity toward others. (See www.organdonor.gov/about/donors/religion.html.)
• A national computer system matches donated organs to recipients. Matching factors include blood type, time spent waiting, how sick the person is, any other pertinent medical information and geographic location. Race, income and celebrity are never considered.
• An open casket funeral is usually possible for organ, eye and tissue donors. Through the entire donation process, the body is treated with care, respect and dignity.
• There is no cost to donors or their families.
• No policy or federal regulation excludes a member of the LGBTQ community from donating organs. What matters is the health of the organs.
To become an organ donor in Maryland, visit the Donate Life Maryland website at www.donatelifemaryland.org or visit a Motor Vehicle Administration branch.
In West Virginia, you can say you want to be an organ donor when you renew your driver’s license, or register with the state organ donor database at https://donatelife.wv.gov/.
You can register to become an organ donor when you renew your driver’s license in Pennsylvania, or register with that state’s organ donor database at www.donatelifepa.org.