Today, 19 people will die who could have been saved. It isn’t yet known who they are, but they are among the more than 120,000 people awaiting organ transplants in the United States. Some of them are children. A small number are infants under one year old. One person will have die waiting for a transplant for every four patients who get transplants. These people will die because there are ten times as many people waiting for organs as there are willing donors, including living donors for some organs, and not all of those donors can donate to every, or even any, would-be recipient.
Organ transplants are necessary. In fact, because they are so difficult—they require not only an exact match, but anti-rejection drugs that suppress immune response to the transplanted organ isn’t rejected for the remainder of the recipients life—transplants are only performed when the recipient has a good chance with a transplant but essentially no chance without one. These people need donors who agree to allow their kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs, heart, and intestines to be removed posthumously and given to someone who needs it, if it is useable, or for a part of any of these organs except the heart to be removed from a living donor and transplanted into a patient in need.
People who volunteer to donate organs are given the same treatment as other patients when they themselves are hospitalized. There’s no rush to declare them dead to use their organs. In fact, their organs require more extensive testing, to determine what is useable and how it can best be used. This testing is paid for by the recipients insurance, or by charitable organizations. These are also the sources of funding for living tissue donors; no expenses are born by the donors or their families. Modern donated organ and tissue recovery techniques mean it’s even possible for someone to have an open-casket funeral after donated tissue is removed. No one is too old or too sick to donate tissue; even people with illnesses affecting some organs are generally able to donate the rest. In most states, enlisting as a donor is done though the department of motor vehicles. but any health care facility should have information on how to volunteer.