If you are an organ donor, you will save lives. Organ /eye / tissue donors save many lives every single day. Nearly 124,000 men, women, and children are waiting for an organ transplant in the United States, but sadly many will never get the call saying there is a second chance at their life. An organ donor can be alive or deceased. A living donor can give a kidney, portion of their liver, lung, intestine, or pancreas; while a deceased donors can give both kidneys, pancreas, both lungs, heart, intestinal organs, bones, corneas, and tissue. The kidney is the most transplanted organ since there are two, followed by the liver and heart.
Most people think the doctors will not try as hard to save you if you are an organ donor, but that isn’t true. Doctors will try every possible thing to save you, but after everything has been tried there are tests performed on the brain to see if there is any brain activity and to declare brain death. If the patient is considered brain dead, then organ donation is considered.
The first known organ transplants started in the early 1950’s, but none were successful. Although in 1954 the patients were Richard and Ronald Herrick and were identical twins. Richard was dying of kidney disease, so Ronald donated his kidney to his brother. Since they were identical twins, the kidney did not reject because it did not appear like an foreign object was put in Richard.
The first liver transplant was performed in 1963, unfortunately that patient passed away during surgery from bleeding out on the table. There were few attempts at liver transplant, but nothing was successful until 1967 with one year survival rate. Liver transplants were still experimental through the 1970’s. Liver transplants have improved drastically since then, but the procedure is still formidable with an abundance of complications.
The first human heart transplant operation was on December 3, 1967. Most patients who receive a heart transplant have an incurable heart disease or heart failure. The recently deceased patients’ heart is implanted into the receiver, and either the receiver’s heart stays in them to help support the new heart or it is completely taken out. The postoperative life survival is about 15 years. A transplant is not a cure, but it is a second chance.