Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

September 25, 2013

Organ donation saves lives

VALDOSTA — LifeLink of Georgia is offering area residents a chance to continue helping others, even after death, through organ donation. To many, the idea of organ donation might seem morbid, but the importance of organ donation is unmeasurable. LifeLink is the organization that handles organ donations at South Georgia Medical Center.

According to LifeLink's website, every 11 minutes, another name is added to the organ transplant waiting list, with almost 120,000 Americans waiting to receive a transplant.

Through organ donation, one organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people after their death, but it doesn't stop there. One tissue donor can help at least 50 others through their donations, meaning that an organ and tissue donor, if all of their organs are able to be donated, could help up to 58 people.

While organ donation can be an amazing gift to someone in need, there are many scary rumors surrounding organ donation.

Many people hear rumors that Emergency medical personnel will not try as hard to help you if you are in an accident if you are an organ donor. This is not true. An emergency responder on the scene is not going to know that a person is an organ donor, and even if they did, their focus is to help the injured person.

The same goes for a patient in a hospital. According to LifeLink's website, "Emergency medical staff have nothing to do with organ and tissue recovery. They do not work for transplant centers and have one goal: to save the lives of the patients in their emergency rooms. Organ transplant specialists are only contacted after all efforts to save a patient have been exhausted and the patient has died."

Another rumor about organ donation is that donors cannot have an open casket at their funeral. This is not true. Donation does not mutilate the body and it is still entirely possible to have an open casket.

The process of organ donation can be confusing for some people. To begin with, a hospital identifies a potential organ donor and contacts LifeLink. LifeLink then meets with the donor’s family to discuss and confirm the plans for donation. They then review the donor's medical and social history thoroughly. The search then begins for transplant recipients. The donor’s organs are matched by blood types, age, weight, severity of patient illness and time on the waiting list. Once a match is found, the organ and tissue recovery then begins and they are given to the transplant recipient.

LifeLink doesn't end their work when the donations are made. They also continue to offer services to the family of the donor even after the donor’s death.

 "Donor families receive information about transplant recipients through LifeLink and are invited to participate in our annual Donor Family Service of Remembrance, an event celebrating and honoring the lives of their loved ones. LifeLink also erects a Tree of Life monument every year, etching the names of donors in glass at our headquarters in Florida. Family members receive medallions commemorating their loved ones' gifts and have the opportunity to submit memorial fabric squares for inclusion in our donor family quilts."

You can register to be an organ donor when renewing your driver's license. You can also register online. If you are interested in registering online as an organ donor, please visit http://www.lifelinkfound.org/donatelife/.

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