COOKEVILLE — Becoming an organ donor is a selfless act that takes minutes to do.
April is National Donate Life Month, a time that raises awareness about donation, encourages Americans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors and to honor those who have saved lives through the gift of donation.
Organ donation is more than donating a heart, kidney, lung, liver, cornea or pancreas though.
“Here at Cookeville Regional, we had 595 multiple tissue transplants from July 2021 through April 15, 2022,” said David Phillips, director of surgical services at Cookeville Regional.
That includes bone, tendons and ligaments and these can be used in many surgical applications, including saving patients with severe burns, allowing athletes with torn ligaments or tendons to heal and regain strength, restoring hope and mobility to military men and women who have been injured in combat and repairing musculoskeletal structures such as teeth, skin and spinal components.
Tissue donation must be initiated within 24 hours of a person’s death. Unlike organs, donated tissues can be processed and stored for an extended period of time.
Tissue transplant procedures vary depending on the type of tissue being donated. Recipients prepare for a cornea transplant and a heart valve surgery differently.
A single tissue donor can help more than 75 people, with more than 2.5 million lifesaving and healing tissue transplants being performed each year.
In 2021, more than 41,000 transplants from 20,300 donors brought renewed life to patients and their families and communities.
More than 100,000 people are waiting for lifesaving organ transplants.
Sixty percent of patients awaiting lifesaving transplants are minorities. Another person is added to the nation’s organ transplant waiting list every nine minutes. Seventeen people die each day while waiting for a transplant. In 2020, 6,151 transplant candidates died while on the national transplant waiting list.
Eighty-five percent of those on the waiting list are waiting for a kidney. The average waiting time for a kidney from a deceased donor is 3-5 years. A kidney from a living donor offers patients an alternative to years of dialysis and time on the national transport waiting list.
Eleven percent of patients waiting are in need of a liver. Living donation of part of the liver can help these patients (the remaining portion of the donor liver will regenerate and regain full function).
“Becoming an organ and tissue donor truly saves lives,” said Paul Korth, Cookeville Regional Medical Center’s CEO. “It is a gift that gives life to someone in need.”
Watch Phillips and Angela Craig talk about this subject in these three videos: