Organ Donation

Arthur Stanley, 65, of Sheldon, Wis., is on the transplant waiting list for two lungs after being diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis.

Arthur Stanley, 65, is holding out hope for a new set of lungs.

The man from Sheldon, Wis., has spent three and a half months in treatment at the Mayo Clinic, and two and a half years on the national transplant waiting list.

He has pulmonary fibrosis, a disease in which the lungs’ tissue becomes damaged and thickens, making it difficult for patients to breathe. It can be treated with medication and therapies, but the damage can’t be undone.

Sometimes a lung transplant is the best treatment option.

But Stanley may be waiting for those lungs for a long time.

According to the American Transplant Foundation, there are nearly 114,000 people on the national transplant waiting list. On average, a new name is added to the national list every 10 minutes.

And according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, an average of 18 people die each day, nationwide, awaiting new organs.

The American Transplant Foundation estimates that number could be closer to 20 per day.

For Stanley, and many others on the list, all they can do is wait for a call that an organ — in his case, from a deceased donor — that matches their needs has come in, and they’ve moved to the top of the waiting list in the area.

“They have to match my blood type, they have to be the right size, certain antibodies, I guess there has to be other things they need, too, to match,” Stanley said.

There’s one thing that’ll make finding those lungs easier — having more registered organ donors in the U.S.

Despite general support for organ donation, slightly less than 70 percent of adults in Minnesota are registered as organ donors. That number drops to less than 60 percent across the U.S.

The annual Walk of Remembrance took place on April 12, in the Francis Building at Saint Marys Hospital.

Doctors, nurses, family members of donors, and current patients awaiting transplants wore green and blue to honor Rochester organ donors. A green and blue flag flew outside the building to signify Donate Life month, celebrated in April.

Sarah Kemer, a donation coordinator with LifeSource, spoke about her experience helping the family of Karlys Koens, an administrative assistant in the nursing department at Mayo Clinic who was struck by a car and donated several organs last year.

“I work with strangers, who may not even know they’re destined to be a hero,” she said.

Organs from one deceased donor can save up to eight people, and increase the quality of life for about 100 more, according to the American Transplant Foundation.

So why isn’t everyone registered?

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Anne writes for Rochester Magazine and the Post Bulletin, and edits 507 Magazine. She hails from Lafayette, Indiana and enjoys reading, tea-drinking, and her cat, Newt Scameownder.