Because of the need for social distancing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Legacy of Hope (LoH, formerly the Alabama Organ Center) has cancelled in-person events for National Donate Life Month, an observance established by Donate Life America to raise awareness about the need for organ donation. That’s the bad news. The good news is that, even in this time of crisis, organ donation continues due to the generosity of donors, their families, and the frontline staff who support the LoH mission.
LoH says donors and their families are responding to the need for transplantation, even as the process has been complicated by the many precautions now taken to protect donors and medical staff from coronavirus. LoH Director of Education Ann Rayburn says the generosity of donors during this crisis is inspiring.
“We are disappointed that National Donate Life Month events had to be cancelled,” Rayburn says. “But this turns out to be an excellent opportunity to recognize the generosity we’re seeing right now. Potential recipients in immediate need of an organ understandably may be concerned that the pandemic could prevent them from getting a transplant in time. But we have not seen a drop-off in donations. In a situation like we have now, I think that demonstrates the selfless side of the human spirit better than ever.”
To help make sure the transplantation process remains a safe one, all donors are tested for COVID-19, and no organ is transported until test results return. Personal protective equipment and other precautions are in place for the safety of everyone involved, from social workers and coordinators to frontline staff. Transplant surgeons across the nation are encouraged to recover organs for other programs in an effort to limit travel and exposure.
Garden of Life
Donate Life America and LoH focus state and national attention on how every individual has the potential to give the gift of life by registering his or her decision to be an organ, eye, and tissue donor and considering being a living donor. One organ donor can save eight lives, and one tissue donor can save or enhance the lives of 100 people.
Donate Life America also develops a theme and art design for National Donate Life Month (NDLM) each year to illustrate the power of donation. For 2020, the theme is “Garden of Life”, which represents an ecosystem of plants, insects, and other organisms working together to form an interconnected living system. Similarly, donors can nurture and enrich our communities through organ, eye, and tissue donation.
During NDLM, LoH encourages people to participate in this lifesaving and healing garden through registering as an organ, eye, and tissue donor; educating themselves about living donation; and championing the Donate Life cause.
Need for Organs
Nationally, nearly 40,000 organ transplants were performed in 2019 using organs from both deceased and living donors. Currently, more than 156 million people – about 60% of the U.S. adult population – are registered organ, eye, and tissue donors.
Unfortunately, the number of people in need of transplants is more than the number of organs actually donated. More than 114,000 people are waiting for a transplant, and an average of 22 people die each day because the organ they need is not donated in time. More than 80% of patients on the waiting list are waiting for a kidney, while 12% need a liver.
LoH is the federally designated, nonprofit organ procurement organization for the state of Alabama. It coordinates organ and tissue donations for transplantation and research, working with health care and community partners to support donor families, facilitate donation, and provide community education to encourage people to become organ and tissue donors.
Click here to learn more about Legacy of Hope or to register as an organ, eye, and tissue donor.
National Donate Life Month is the perfect time to reserve your Donate Life Alabama distinctive license plate. Legacy of Hope has until May 31 to reach the goal of 250 paid pre-commitments for the plate to be produced. Of the $50 fee, $41.25 will be donated to LoH to support public education efforts. Purchase your plate here.