You can donate more than just your organs

When we heard that France made organ donation the default for everyone

When we heard that France made organ donation the default for everyone — you have to opt out, not in — we thought we’d examine what’s going on in this country and if that could be a good idea here.

The good news is that for the fourth year in a row, a record number of organ transplants were performed in the U.S.; 33,606 procedures in 2016 alone, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. That’s an 8.5 per cent increase over 2015, and a 19.8 per cent increase since 2012. Nearly 95 percent of American adults say they support organ donation.

But — there’s always a “but” — only 48 per cent of adults actually register to donate when they die. From that pool, only three out of every 1,000 potential donors die in such a way that makes donation even possible! That’s why there are more than 119,000 people waiting for a donated organ and why 22 people a day die waiting for an organ donation that never arrives.

So let’s take a look at what organ donation means and what it can accomplish.

Who needs what? As of September 2016, 81.9 per cent of folks on the waiting list needed a kidney; 11.4 per cent, a liver; 3.2 per cent, a heart; 1.1 per cent, a lung; 2.5 per cent, all others (pancreas, intestines).

What else can you donate? In addition to donating those organs, you can donate blood, blood vessels, bones, bone marrow, cartilage, connective tissues (tendons, ligaments), eyes (and components of eyes), heart valves, veins, skin and, as of 2014, hands and face.

How is a donation carried out? First, the medical team must determine that the donor is brain-dead: That means there is no brain activity and no independent respiration. Someone who is brain-dead cannot be revived or recover.

Only after brain death has been confirmed and the time of death noted can organ donation become a possibility.

What can one donor accomplish? One donor may contribute eight organs: a heart, two lungs, liver, two kidneys, pancreas and intestines. And each one is vitally important: As Dr. Oz says on the New York State organ donor website: “I have performed hundreds of life-saving heart transplants, but I’ve also seen countless lives lost because we couldn’t get the hearts needed for more of these miraculous operations.”

In addition to the miracle of organ donation, consider how significant other types of donations can be. Just recently, nine-year-old Zion Harvey celebrated the 18-month anniversary of his double hand transplant (he had lost both to a massive infection as a toddler).

What are the obstacles to donation? Researchers suggest that when donation is the default (as in France now), people view it as expected and are more likely to go along with the plan. But that doesn’t always hold true: In Portugal and Belgium, two countries with automatic opt-ins, the actual donation rate from those who are deceased is around 27 people per million, just a hair above the U.S. rate.

We think you just need to reflect on how you’d eagerly pursue finding a donor and how thankful you’d be if that organ donation saved the life of a loved one — or you! Then there’s no question that you’d gladly help someone else receive the same gift.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of The Dr. Oz Show, and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

Note: For donor information in Alberta visit Alberta Organ and Tissue Donation Registry at

Just Posted

BREAKING: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Canada, U.S. lead call for enforcement of sanctions against North Korea

VANCOUVER — Canada and the U.S. led calls Tuesday for the global… Continue reading

Donald Trump aces mental aptitude test designed by an immigrant to Canada

WASHINGTON — When the White House released the results of a test… Continue reading

Food industry fails to meet most voluntary sodium reduction targets: Health Canada

TORONTO — Voluntary sodium targets for the food industry have failed to… Continue reading

Feds long way from restarting or scraping missing, murdered women inquiry: PM

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his government is a long… Continue reading

WATCH: Rebels play floor hockey with Annie L. Gaetz students

The Rebels may be on a losing streak but they were definitely… Continue reading

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Central Albertans recall Hawaii’s false missile alert

Former Red Deer councillor Paul Harris was hanging out at the Ka’anapali… Continue reading

This robotic maid takes us one step closer to ‘The Jetsons’

Imagine this: You’re rushing to get ready for work — juggling emails,… Continue reading

Milan line offers canine couture for pampered pooches

Milan has long been the world’s ready-to-wear fashion leader. Now, dogs are… Continue reading

Kim Kardashian West and husband Kanye welcome baby girl

NEW YORK — It’s a girl for Kim Kardashian West and her… Continue reading

Advocate poll takers oppose plastic bag ban

Red Deer Advocate readers like their plastic bags. In an Advocate poll,… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month