CLEVELAND – April is National Donate Life Month, which is a time set aside each year to help raise awareness about the importance of organ donation.
A majority of organ donations come from deceased donors. However, in some cases, a living donor can be another option for people who need a life-saving transplant.
“A living donor transplant is a method of doing a transplant where we use organs from a healthy living person, but we only take part of the organ,” explained David Kwon, MD, Director of Laparoscopic Liver Surgery for Cleveland Clinic. “So let’s say for a kidney transplant, we only take one of the kidneys. And for a liver transplant, we split the liver and use part of the liver.”
Dr. Kwon said a living donor can donate a kidney, a liver lobe, a lung or part of a lung, part of the pancreas, and part of the intestine.
The waiting list for organ donations from deceased individuals varies based on the demand and the sickest patients get priority.
According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, more than 106,000 people need a life-saving organ transplant here in the United States.
Dr. Kwon said given the need, living donors can be of great help. And you don’t have to be related to the patient, either. Strangers can donate to one another as well.
“Also, there is some data that the donors in the long term follow-up, not all, but more than half of the donors, they become psychologically healthier after they donate,” he said.
To become an organ donor, you can sign-up through your state registry or in person at your local motor vehicle department.