Post Bulletin reporter Nora Eckert’s ongoing series of stories on organ transplants have been shining a light on a critical need in Minnesota and the U.S.
More than 100,000 men, women and children are on the national transplant waiting list, every nine minutes or so another one is added, and on average 17 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant.
Eckert has told us about Ken Hanson, our former work colleague at the Post Bulletin, who waits for a kidney transplant as he is supported by a team of friends and caregivers.
And we have read about Linda and Tom Christopherson, a husband and wife whose transplant story, about the heart-shaped kidney Linda gave to Tom, touched our hearts.
In Rochester, more than 1,000 people wait for a viable organ donor to be found to help them. If you find it in your heart -- or your kidney, or pancreas -- to be a donor to help them, here are some things to know. These facts come from the website of the Health Resources and Services Administration, organdonor.gov.
You have to be 18 or older to make yourself a donor, and there’s no strict upper age limit, although donors have to be in generally good health to be accepted. Donors under age 18 can do so with permission of a parent or guardian.
Eight vital organs -- heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver, intestines, hands, and face -- can be donated, as can tissue (including corneas), bone marrow and stem cells.
Race is not a factor in matching donors and recipients, but minorities have a higher need for transplants, because some diseases that cause end-stage organ failure are more common in these groups of people.
Having an organ donor card or checking the organ donor box on your driver’s license may not be enough to guarantee your organs will be donated. It’s necessary to enroll in your state registry, a process that is described at organdonor.gov. It’s also a good idea to talk to your family about your intent to donate.
If you want to donate your body for scientific research -- not an uncommon desire in the Med City -- you might not be able to also donate specific organs. Consult your medical provider to see what may be permitted.
Blood donations also are sorely needed at this time.
You’ve heard the saying about wealth, “You can’t take it with you.” Same goes for our body parts that might be used to prolong others’ lives. Consider being a donor.