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Corewell Health shares reasons why you should become an organ donor

Posted at 11:16 AM, Apr 21, 2023

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Dr. Julia Steinke has been a pediatric nephrologist at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital since 2008. In addition to her ongoing research, she enjoys helping her young patients achieve a high quality of life through both treatment and kidney transplantation programs. Today, she will discuss the importance of organ donation in general and kidney transplants in particular. One of her professional goals is to offer kidney transplantation to infants weighing less than 20 kg and to continue to grow the number of transplants so that more children can avoid the need for dialysis.

More than 100,000 people are waiting for a lifesaving transplant. Transplants rely on the generosity of organ, eye, and tissue donors, and there are not enough donors to meet the need. Becoming a donor is easy, just register on the National Donate Life Registry online or do so the next time you renew your driver’s license.

The reason for this is that there are many misconceptions about becoming a donor:

  • People of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential organ, eye, and tissue donors.
  • Registering as a donor does not change your patient care. Your life always comes first.
  • All major religions support donation as a final act of compassion and generosity.
  • There is no cost to the donor’s family or estate for donation.
  • Sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression does not prevent someone from registering as an organ donor.
  • A national system matches available organs from the donor with people on the waiting list based on blood type, body size, how sick they are, donor distance, tissue type and time on the waiting list.
  • Race, income, gender, orientation, celebrity and social status are never considered.

There is a difference between deceased and living organ donation:

  • Deceased donation occurs when a patient who is a registered organ donor has passed away.
  • Living organ donation offers another choice for some transplant candidates and for donors.
  • Living donation is an opportunity to save a life while you are still alive.
  • Living donors don’t have to be related to their recipients. On average, 1 in 4 living donors is not biologically related to the recipient.
  • Kidney and liver transplant candidates who are able to receive a living donor transplant can receive the best quality organ much sooner, often in less than a year.
  • This reduces their time on the waiting list and leads to better long-term outcomes for the recipient.

To find out more, visit spectrumhealth.org.