April 5, 2019

Donation Saves Lives – Choosing to Become an Organ Donor

What if a single, simple decision you made could dramatically alter the path of someone else’s life for the better?

Choosing to become an organ donor has exactly that impact. One organ donor can save as many as eight lives, and one tissue donor can improve up to 50 lives.

More than 110 people are added to the national waiting list for organ transplants each day – one every 13 minutes. Currently 3,000 North Carolinians are waiting for a lifesaving transplant.

Mission Health works with LifeShare Carolinas to shine a light on the importance of organ donations for both the recipients and the families of donors. Mission participated in 22 organ donations in 2017, up from 10 in 2016. This year also marked the first time Mission had our first donation of seven organs at one time.

“We are working closely with LifeShare and the donor families to ensure that we do everything possible to have these organ donation patients leave a legacy,” said Missy Briones, Mission’s Director of Mission Experience and Service Excellence. “It means so much to have the skills and team members available to facilitate that many organ donations.”

Briones explained that as soon as the decision is made to donate an organ or organs, her team contacts LifeShare to review options. As a caregiver, the focus is on ensuring that anyone who is eligible receives the gift of life.

“The choice for organ donation means that our team members will have witnessed one of the most priceless and selfless decisions that can ever be made,” Briones said. “Our team members work so hard to heal someone – they invest their energy, their emotions and skills to their work and to fix someone.  When it becomes apparent that it can’t happen, it is devastating.”

Briones said that the decision to donate an organ helps our care teams as well as the family, because of the impact on the life that is saved. She said these patients and their families inspire our team members.

“No matter the circumstances of your passing, something positive comes from even the most tragic of situations when you donate your organs and tissue,” Briones said. “There will be something positive to come to a family whose burden is lifted even as another’s is buried in grief. Many families are comforted when a part of their loved one lives on.”

Registering to Donate Life

The Donate Life flag was raised by Mason Jackson of LifeShare Of The Carolinas.

Did you know in North Carolina to become a tissue donor you must take the additional step of signing up online? While you may have registered to be a donor at your local DMV, that only covers eye and organ donation. Register online at DonateLifeNC.org to become an organ, eye and tissue donor. Online you even have the option to choose which organs or tissues you want to donate and exclude those you don’t want to donate.
“One of our greatest accomplishments is our ability to save a human life – that is what is happening when you donate an organ,” Briones said. “You are a hero to the care team who help you save the life, a hero to the family of the organ recipient and your family’s grief is eased by knowing a part of you lives on – you will always be remembered for that gift of life.”

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How old do I have to be to be an organ donor? Every person, from newborns to senior citizens age 85 and older, should consider themselves a potential donor. Your medical condition at the time of your death will determine which organs and tissues can be donated. Make sure your family knows of your decision to become an organ donor. 
  • Will I be denied proper medical treatment if I decide to become a donor? Until a patient is declared dead, every effort is made is to save his or her life. By law, the transplant team cannot be involved in a patient’s care until after the person is pronounced dead. 
  • Can organ and tissue donors have open-casket funerals? Organ and tissue recovery will not alter the body’s outward appearance, nor will it interfere with funeral arrangements.
  • What organs and tissues can be donated? Lifesaving organs that can be transplanted include the heart, kidney, pancreas, lungs, liver and intestines. Tissues such as heart valves, skin, bones, ligaments, veins and tendons are also needed. Cornea transplants are the most common type of transplants performed each year.

To learn more about becoming an organ donor or to sign up online, visit donatelifenc.org.