one red heart being donated to many peopleImagine doing one simple thing that took just minutes and required no payment but could save up to eight lives as well as enhance the lives of more than 25 people. This is the impact you could make by becoming a registered organ and tissue donor. An overwhelming 95 percent of adults in the United States claims to support organ donation but sadly, only about 54 percent take the few minutes required to register as an organ donor according to the Health Resources & Services Administration. The need is great. More than 113,000 people are currently on a waiting list for an organ and tissue transplant, hoping to survive each day until organs can be found to save their lives. Each day, 20 people on that list die without finding a life-saving donation according to the American Transplant Foundation. Meanwhile, every 10 minutes a name is added to the list so the need continues to grow.

Gift of Hope was founded to facilitate organ and tissue donation. Since being organized in 1986, the federally designated not-for-profit agency has coordinated organ and tissue donation and offered help to the donor families in the northern three-quarters of Illinois and northwest Indiana. Gift of Hope has helped arrange 23,000 organ transplants and continues to work with 180 hospitals that serve 12 million people in an effort to save even more lives.

A gift that impacts many lives

Organ transplants have given thousands of people a second chance at life. There are six organs that can be successfully transplanted including the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, and intestines. In addition, tissues including corneas, veins, arteries, heart valves, skin, bone, and tendons can be transplanted to enhance life by restoring vision, improving organ operations and addressing many other debilitating conditions. One donation has the potential to change the lives of more than 25 people.

UNOS, the United Network for Organ Sharing, reports that the number of organ transplants has been increasing each year over the past six years. In 2018, 36,527 organ transplants were performed in the United States, an increase of 5 percent over 2017. More lives could be saved however if there were more people willing to be part of the donation process.

One of the reasons that more donors are needed is that organs must be compatible. When matching organs or tissues to a recipient, only medical and logistical factors are considered. Personal or social factors like celebrity status or income are not used for determination. The factors that are used are blood type, height, weight, and other medical information. Some organs like the heart and lungs are only viable for a short time, so recipients for those must be found quickly. When there is a larger number of donors, the chances of finding the perfect match increase.

The power of a donation

Statistics can’t accurately describe the power of the donation process as well as donation success stories. Tanisha, a 41-year-old mother of three, was given a new chance at life when she received a heart transplant after suffering congestive heart failure. She has her own life back and also is able to be a part of the lives of her three children.

There is also a benefit for donor families. Tanisha received her heart from 18-year old Nikki who tragically passed away. Nikki’s mother, Vicki, was devastated by the loss of her daughter but found solace in seeing Tanisha receive the incredible gift.

The donation process can impact many lives in many places. When Springfield stepfather, Jim, lost his high school aged stepdaughter, Maddie, in a car accident, he contacted Gift of Hope. Maddie became a tissue donor, offering 122 bone grafts. Her tissues have enhanced the lives of transplant recipients who live as close as Springfield and East Peoria, and as far away as Pennsylvania and the island city-state of Singapore.

An organ donation can change the lives of the recipients and their families but also provide healing and closure for the donor families. The uplifting power of being an organ donor is truly a gift of hope. By coordinating organ and tissue donation for Illinois and Indiana, this organization has made it possible for donors and recipients to be matched. Gift of Hope also has an educational component, as it provides information and support about the donation process. Gift of Hope reported an impressive 67 percent increase in tissue donors and 14 percent increase in organ donors in 2018. Through the donation process, tens of thousands of people received lifesaving and life-enhancing transplants during 2018.

Offer your gift of hope

Since records started being kept in 1988, there have more than 750,000 organ transplant operations performed in the United States according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. Becoming a registered organ donor can help that number grow. Each donor has the potential to help numerous people live fuller, healthier and longer lives. It is a legacy unlike any other.

To learn more about the impact of becoming a donor and the simple process required, visit https://www.giftofhope.org/contact.