June 2014

Another Way to Save a Life


When you apply or renew your New Jersey Driver’s license one important question that you have to answer is “Do you want to be an organ donor?”  This question is being asked of the 17 year old as well as the senior citizen. It’s a question that I am not unfamiliar with as a family physician. You have all been asked this question as I have prodded you to complete your living will as well.


Many seniors say “who would want these old organs?” My standard reply is “If you are willing to potentially help save another person’s life, then let the organ donation team make that decision.”


Arming yourself with the right information can ease some of the fears you as our patients have about organ donation.  Did you know that in South Jersey in 2011 392 patients donated organs and 1,114 patients received the gift of a lifesaving organ transplant?  Just one organ and tissue donor can save or enhance the lives of more than 50 individuals.  There are vital bone grafts to repair fractures to prevent amputation, skin grafts for burn patients, heart valve replacements, tendons to repair knee injuries and corneal transplants to prevent blindness just to name a few.  The list goes on and on.  The number or patients waiting in our area for organ transplants now exceeds 6,500.  Organs are allocated on the following criteria:  match with a donor, medical urgency and time on the waiting list.  There is no cost to the family for organ donation and donation does not interfere with the customary funeral plans.


The Gift of Life Donor Program is an organization that is notified when there is a potential organ donor from a hospital ER or ICU.  Contact should be thought of before formal brain death examination or having the discussion with the family about the withdrawal of life-sustaining therapies.  Notifying Gift of Life is the first step to ensuring that a family’s donation opportunity is preserved.  The Gift of Life service region includes Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware and it is part of the 58 nonprofit organ procurement organizations in the nationwide network run by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).


UNOS and its success rely on us, so please consider organ donation with your next driver’s license renewal and living will.  Visit www.donors1.org for more information.


Thank you for trying to help Save a Life!



Dr. Lee Ann