April 13, 2007

Check the Box!

April is National Donate Life Month, which focuses on Organ Donation. Please read the following, which was taken directly from the OrganTrail.

Dubya sez, "Be a Donor!"

Also, check out info about the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act.

"As of January, 2006 there were over 92,000 individuals on the waiting list for organ transplantation, and the list keeps growing. It is estimated that approximately 5,000 individuals join the waiting list each year. See “Organ Donation: Opportunities for Action,” Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (2006) www.nap.edu. Every hour another person in the United States dies because of the lack of an organ to provide a life saving organ transplant.

The lack of organs results from the lack of organ donors. For example, according to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients in 2005 when there were about 90,000 people on the organ transplant waiting list, there were 13,091 individuals who died under the age of 70 using cardiac and brain death criteria and who were eligible to be organ donors. Of these, only 58% or 7,593 were actual donors who provided just over 23,000 organs. Living donors, primarily of kidneys, contributed about 6,800 more organs. Between them about 28,000 organs were transplanted into patients on the waiting list in 2005. (See www.optn.org).

The 2005 data on cadaveric organ donors suggests there were 5,498 individuals who died that year that could have been donors who weren’t and that had they been organ donors there would have been approximately 17,000 additional organs potentially available for transplantation. (See generally, www.unos.org and www.ustransplant.org). However, these numbers to some extent are only estimates. First, they exclude individuals dying over the age of 70. Second, the data are self reported for eligible donors. Indicative of the absence of precision in this area is the report from the Institute of Medicine. According to the IOM, it has been estimated that donor-eligible deaths range between 10,500 and 16,800 per year. See Organ Donation: Opportunities for Action,” Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (2006) at page 27. www.nap.edu

Using the 2005 figures for deceased organ donors, this would suggest that between approximately 3,000 and 9,000 decedents could have been donors but weren’t. Further, if one assumes an average of three solid organs recovered from each of them, there could be between 9,000 and 27,000 more organs that might have been available to transplant into individuals on the waiting list.

The data for eye and tissue is, however, more encouraging. On an annual basis there are approximately 50,000 eye donors and tissue donors and over 1,000,000 ocular and tissue transplants.

This Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (“UAGA”) is promulgated by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (“NCCUSL”) to address in part the critical organ shortage by providing additional ways for making organ, eye, and tissue donations. The original UAGA was promulgated by NCCUSL in 1968 and promptly enacted by all states. In 1987, the UAGA was revised and updated, but only 26 states adopted that version. Since 1987, many states have adopted non-uniform amendments to their anatomical gift acts. The law among the various states is no longer uniform and harmonious, and the diversity of law is an impediment to transplantation. Furthermore the federal government has been increasingly active in the organ transplant process.

Since 1987, there also have been substantial improvements in the technology and practice of organ, eye, and tissue transplantation and therapy. And, the need for organs, eyes, and tissue for research and education has increased to assure more successful transplantations and therapies. The improvements in technology and the growing needs of the research community have correspondingly increased the need for more donors."

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