Checking a box can save a life: Consider registering as an organ donor

Gwen Henry | Cartoonist

By The Editorial Board

About 170 million Americans are registered organ donors. Are you?

Oftentimes, the first thing that comes to mind when hearing the term “organ donor” is a lousy trip to the DMV to get a driver’s license, during which 16-year-olds are faced with the choice to register as organ donors by simply checking a box. However, many look past the box and never turn back because they don’t feel a sense of urgency or necessity.

According to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, people between 18 and 34 years old make up almost 30% of deceased organ donors. As college students, it may seem like we’re invincible, but tragedy happens, and it’s important to be prepared. Becoming a registered organ donor doesn’t impact how you live; it just gives you the chance to help others after the fact.

There has never been a greater need for organ donors than there is now. More than 100,000 men, women and children are waiting for life-saving organ transplants, and every nine minutes, another patient is added to the national transplant waiting list. With numbers rising to dire levels, the need is outweighing the support.

According to Penn Medicine, less than 50% of Americans are registered organ donors. This research also found that more than 99% of people 18 and older know about organ donation. This begs the question: Why are people uncomfortable with organ donation, and what misconceptions surround it?

One large misconception when it comes to registering as an organ donor is that, in the event of a serious medical issue, less medical care will be given to someone who is registered compared to one who is not. The idea raises valid concerns, but before being considered as a potential organ donor, a person always receives all life-saving measures possible. Only after doctors have done everything in their power will the hospital notify organ recovery organizations. Thus, the best medical care is given to every patient, regardless of whether or not they are registered as an organ donor, and any exceptions result in the termination of medical licenses.

With recent medical advancements, one deceased donor can save eight lives, restore sight to two people and heal more than 75 others. In 2022, over 42,000 organ transplants were performed in the United States — more than any other year. With these historic numbers, the United States reached one million total organ transplants, dating back to the first successful transplant in 1954.

In the past year, there have been 4,155 organ transplants in the state of Texas, but there have been 11,675 waitlist additions. On average, 17 people die each day in the United States while waiting for a life-saving transplant. And the truth is, you never know when you or someone you love may be on the receiving end of a transplant.

Even though most registrations are completed at the DMV, you can also register online in your state.