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Gift of Life Donor Program Encourages Public, Legislators to Act Now to Help End the Wait

Support Best Practices for Donation, Education & Local Collaboration

Philadelphia, PA—Right now, more than 6,500 individuals in Gift of Life Donor Program’s service area are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant; 90 of these are children. Gift of Life—the region’s non-profit, federally designated organ procurement organization (OPO) serving the eastern half of Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware—is working diligently with the area’s 138 hospitals and 16 transplant centers to find suitable organs to help end the wait for these individuals.

Recently, the media has focused public attention on the needs of those who are lung transplant candidates, especially those who are young children -- including 10 year-old Sarah Murnaghan -- and the current organ allocation policies. Organ allocation includes a complex medical evaluation to determine if a particular organ is suitable for a potential recipient. This includes factors such as severity of illness of the recipient, donor size matching and organ function. All donor organ offers made available on behalf of a particular recipient are evaluated by the applicable transplant team. It has been reported in the media that Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has called for a review of policies affecting patients needing lung transplants such as Sarah. Gift of Life Donor Program supports the on-going review of all organ allocation policies to promote transparency and public trust in the allocation of these precious gifts of life. Each organ procurement organization, such as Gift of Life Donor Program, is required to follow the adopted allocation policies of the national Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) and does not have authority to determine who is offered a donor organ.

Gift of Life Donor Program does believe there are meaningful ways the public and our state legislators can actively help end the wait for those desperately waiting for a second chance at life, like Sarah.

First, more people must designate themselves as donors. Because not enough people have already registered to become a donor (through a registry, driver’s license or photo ID card), families must make this decision after their loved one’s death at a time of grief and pain. In Gift of Life’s experience, in these situations only 60% of families will authorize donation. This results in the loss of many potentially medically suitable donor organs for transplant.

To aid all of the child and adult patients awaiting their life-saving transplant, each adult should take the 90 seconds needed to register online through the state registry at www.donors1.org.

Second, Gift of Life Donor Program and the Pittsburgh-based Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE), the organ procurement organization serving the western half of Pennsylvania, strongly encourage all Pennsylvanians to support the proposed Donate Life PA Act, Senate Bill 850 and a House Bill that will be introduced within the next 7 to 10 days.

The Donate Life PA Act provides a comprehensive framework for increasing organ and tissue donation and transplantation through the incorporation of best clinical practices and collaboration with healthcare partners, enhanced public and health professional education regarding donation and transplantation and enhanced collaboration with county medical examiners and coroners to ensure that donation options are available and implemented for all families consistently throughout the Commonwealth.

Gift of Life Donor Program recognizes the long and difficult wait that many patients in our region must endure to find suitable organs for transplant. It is not acceptable that 18 people die each day due to the organ shortage and more than 118,000 people nationally must wait. We believe that every potential donor family should be given the opportunity to donate in a compassionate and caring manner. Gift of Life is grateful to these selfless organ and tissue donors and their families who have said “yes” to donation and have given the gift of life. To learn more about how to register as a donor, please call Gift of Life Donor Program at 1-800-DONORS-1 (1-800-366-6771).

With the commitment and dedication of these generous donor families, healthcare partners and our supportive community, Gift of Life will continue to work to provide life-saving transplants for the men, women and children in desperate need of a second chance at life.

Gift of Life Donor Program is the non-profit, federally designated organ and tissue transplant network serving eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware. For over 39 years, Gift of Life has coordinated more than 35,000 organ transplants, along with an estimated 500,000 tissue transplants. For more information on organ and tissue donation, please call Gift of Life at 1-800-DONORS-1 (1-800-366-6771) or visit at www.donors1.org.

Find Related Info
Living Donor, United Network for Organ Sharing, Donor Registry, Transplant Waiting List, Media Resources

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It’s easy to add the donor designation to your driver's license or state I.D. card. In Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Sign up today!

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