Observed in April each year, National Donate Life Month helps raise awareness about organ donations and encourages Americans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors. It’s also a time to honor those who have saved lives through the gift of donations.
According to Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA), there are currently over 104,000 people in the U.S. in need of an organ transplant. In fact, 20 people die every day across the country because of the drastic organ shortage.
Dr. Luke Shen specializes in abdominal transplants of the liver, kidney, and pancreas. He is the Surgical Director of the kidney and pancreas transplant programs. He is also the Medical Director of Texas Organ Sharing Alliance (TOSA) – which is the area’s Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) covering most of south Texas.
Shen says that organ donation and Donate Life Month are important causes to their hospital because they have the ability to help save many lives.
Donating an organ is a life-changing decision for both the donor and the recipient. The goal of the donation process is to honor the donor’s wishes and support the family through a difficult period.
“At our hospital, we have programs that can assist a potential donor through the transplant process. We also have an independent living donor advocate who assists the donor in a journey of self-reflection to guarantee the donors best interests are upheld,” Shen said.
Members of the TOSA (OPO) are contacted, and the initiation of an evaluation for a potential donor is determined. Authorization is then requested from the family.
If they are a registered donor, the patient’s wishes will be shared to the family. If they are not a registered donor, the patient’s family has time to learn about the donation process and ask appropriate questions before making the difficult decision of whether to donate.
One deceased donor or person has the power to save eight separate lives. Registering to become an organ donor can help give others a second chance at life.
There is a goal of 50,000 organ transplants in the year 2026. In 2022, there were almost 43,000 transplants performed, with over 25,000 of those being kidney transplants, for the first time.
In addition, there has been an all-time record in liver (9,528), heart (4,111) and lung (2,692) transplants in 2022. There were more than 6,400 living donor transplants (mostly kidney and over 600 liver donors) in 2022.
Over 14 million registered donor live in Texas, and almost 4 million registered in TOSA’s donor service area in south Texas. This accounts for about 60% of the available donors. Shen says there are many more who can become a registered donor.
To learn more about becoming an organ donor, visiting the United Network for Organ Sharing or your local DMV websites. You can also visit Methodist Healthcare’s website.