You have the opportunity to give the gift of life

I recently listened to a radio news account of a couple who were expecting a twin birth. Midway through her pregnancy, the mother learned one of the twins had a spinal and cranial formation challenge.

The couple’s medical team informed them this child would be born with severe disabilities and would have a very short life expectancy. Sadly, this proved true. The couple reached a decision to donate their infant’s organs to multiple organizations.

Years later, while at a conference, the mother learned she was blocks away from where her son’s cornea was donated. She was able to visit the facility and learned their donated infant’s corneas were still being used for valuable research.

Several years ago, I lost a lifelong friend, Tim. I learned he made a conscious decision to donate his body to Michigan State University’s medical school. According to his daughter, “The medical college let us know how much dad’s remains meant to them and the students. We then knew dad made the right decision to donate in 1976.”

Dennis and I were vice presidents with a regional health care system. He was a dear friend. Dennis received a kidney transplant from a young woman who lost her life in a tragic street accident. The match helped Dennis live 24 more years.

According to Ann Arbor-based Gift of Life/Michigan, a single organ donor’s gift can save up to eight lives.

These donations can range from lungs, liver, pancreas, heart, lung, kidneys, intestines, skin tissue and bones, tendons and corneas.

Gift of Life/Michigan statistics reveal daily, on average, over 90 lives are saved by an organ transplant. Sadly, 20 possible recipients daily pass away for a transplant which never arrives.

Their database indicates on average there are already over 130 million U.S. residents signed up to be an organ donor.

Richmond, Virginia-based United Network for Organ Sharing is a year-round, 24-hours-per-day organ data exchange. Their most recent data revealed, in 2022, more than 42,800 living donor transplants occurred. This was dramatically up from their 2020 annual reporting when 39,000 transplants occurred.

Scott Spielman, a Gift of Life/Michigan spokesperson stated, “Anyone can sign up to be a donor, regardless of their medical history. Medical criteria for organ donation changes as medical advances occur. A physician evaluates all potential donors at the time of death to determine what can be used to help others. A diabetic, for example, might have unhealthy kidneys but a very strong heart or lungs.”

He continued, “An individual with cancer may still be able to donate some organs and tissue, depending on their cancer type and medical condition. Donors with other medical conditions, such as hepatitis or HIV, are able to save or prolong the lives of others who already have hepatitis or HIV. Even Covid-19 is not an automatic rule-out, although the lungs would not be viable.”

Personally, I am a registered organ donor.

For more information:

Contact the medical college of your choice

Visit the Michigan Secretary of State’s office or web site; www.michigan.gov/sos

The Gift of Life/Michigan www.giftoflifemichigan.org

United Network for Organ Sharing www.UNOS.org

Jeffrey D. Brasie is a retired health care CEO. He frequently writes historic feature stories and op-eds for various Michigan newspapers. As a Vietnam-era veteran, he served in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Naval Reserve. He served on the public affairs staff of the Secretary of the Navy. He grew up near the tip of the mitt and resides in suburban Detroit.


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