Organ and Tissue Donation
Every day in our country a life is lost that could have been saved if there had been an available organ or tissue donor. Tens of thousands of anxious people are on waiting lists in every state, including New York, and someone new is added every 16 minutes. Medical science has the ability to successfully transplant many of these vital organs and tissues. But first, there must be a donation in order to support life.
Orleans Community Health/Medina Memorial Hospital collaborates with Upstate New York Transplant Services, Inc. (UNYTS) to identify donors. Upon admission to the hospital, all patients are asked if they are an organ donor. Information is available to anyone who may be willing to consider this gift of life. For information about UNYTS, visit http://www.unyts.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
(Source: UNYTS brochure)
What organs and tissues can be donated?
Organs that can be donated include: Heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, intestines and pancreas. Some of the tissues that can be donated include: Eyes, bone, soft connective tissue, heart valves and veins.
Will the quality of my hospital treatment and efforts to save my life be lessened if hospital staff knows my wishes to be a donor?
No. The quality of medical and nursing care will not change regardless of your decision. A transplant team does not become involved until other physicians, with no relation to the transplant team, have determined that all possible efforts have been made to save the patient's life.
What is brain death?
Brain death occurs when a person has an irreversible brain injury which cause all brain activity to cease. In such cases, the heart and lungs can continue to function if artificial support is used, via a ventilator. However, these functions will also cease when the machines are discontinued. Brain death is an accepted medical, ethical and legal principle. Organs are useable for transplants only in cases where brain death occurs.
Are there religious objections to organ and tissue donation?
Most major religious groups in the United States approve of and support organ/tissue donation as an expression of the highest humanitarian ideals. The gift of life philosophy is consistent with the principles of most religious and ethical systems. If you have a specific question, consult your clergy.
How is it determined who will receive the donated organs?
Regardless of race, sex or religion, organs are allocated based on blood type, body size, time on the waiting list and urgency of need. Through a national computerized waiting list, a potential recipient list is available within minutes.
Q. Does being a donor hinder funeral arrangements?
A The recovery of organs and tissues for transplant is carried out in an operating room using standard surgical procedures. The donation does not delay funeral arrangements nor does it prevent a normal viewing.
Does the donor family have to pay additional expenses if they choose to donate a loved one's organs?
After death has been determined and your family consents to donation, all costs related to the removal and processing of the organs and tissues will be the responsibility of UNYTS. Funeral costs, memorial services or burial plans remain the responsibility of the family.
Is my race a determining factor in donating or receiving organs?
Although race is not a determining factor in organ placement, some minority populations are at greater risk for contracting diseases leading to end-stage organ failure, yet are hesitant to donate due to religious beliefs or a distrust of the medical community. Normally, people of the same ethnic background have a similar genetic structure and therefore produce a closer match.
Will my family be told the identity of recipients of donated organs?
The identity of the individuals receiving the donation remains confidential., and the donor's identity in turn is not revealed. However, a letter confirming that the transplants were done, with a personal history of each recipient, is sent to the donor's family.
Are there age limits to being a donor?
Virtually anyone newborn to 80 years of age could be considered for organ and tissue donation. Donor suitability is determined at the person's time of death.
How can I become a donor?
1. Educate yourself on the organ and tissue donation process. Information is available by calling UNYTS at (716) 85-DONOR.
2. Make an informed decision about your wishes.
3. Sign an organ and tissue donor card.
4. The most important thing to do is to share your wishes of becoming an organ/tissue donor with your family, and ask them to sign your donor card as witnesses. It is your next of kin who make the final decision to donate your organs. Be sure they help carry out your last wish to give the gift of life.