Flowers, chocolates, organ donation — are you in? – Harvard Health Blog

Chocolates and flowers are great gifts for Valentine’s Day. But what if the gifts we give this year could be truly life-changing? A gift that could save someone’s life, or free them from dialysis?

You can do this. For people in need of organ, tissue, or blood donation, a donor can give them a gift that exceeds the value of anything that you can buy. That’s why February 14th is not only Valentine’s Day — it’s also National Donor Day, a time when health organizations nationwide sponsor blood drives and sign-ups for organ and tissue donation. Read on if you’ve ever wondered what can be donated, had reservations about donating your organs or tissues after death, or had concerns about the risks of becoming a live donor.

The enormous impact of organ, tissue, or cell donation

It’s hard to overstate the impact donors can make in the lives of people whose organs are giving out. Imagine you have kidney failure requiring dialysis 12 or more hours each week just to stay alive. Even with this, you know you’re still likely to die a premature death. Or, if your liver is failing, you may experience severe nausea, itching, and confusion; death may only be a matter of weeks or months away. For those with cancer in need of a bone marrow transplant, or someone who’s lost their vision due to corneal disease, finding a donor may be their only good option.

Organ or tissue donation can turn these problems around, giving recipients a chance at a long life, improved quality of life, or both. And yet, the number of people who need organ donation far exceeds the number of compatible donors: about 90% of people in the US support organ donation, but only 60% sign up. An estimated 109,000 women,

Read More