Emory to Celebrate Organ Donation at State Capitol for Donor Recognition Day
Members of the Emory Transplant Center medical team will join Gov. and Mrs. Sonny Perdue and more than 500 organ donor family members, living donors, transplant recipients and others from across Georgia for Donor Recognition Day at the State Capitol on Wednesday, April 25, at 9 a.m.
Sponsored by Donate Life Georgia, Donor Recognition Day is a time to recognize and honor donor family members and living donors who have sacrificed to give others a second chance at life. The emotional gathering of donor family members and living donors will give them the opportunity to talk with recipients, who often never have the opportunity to say thank you to their donors.
“Celebrating the miracle of organ donation allows us to not only honor living donors and the miracle of life they have provided, but we are also able to honor those who have provided life to countless others through their own passing,” says Dr. Christian Larsen, MD, DPhil, director of the Emory Transplant Center. “For those of us who provide care for transplant recipients, the gift of life made possible by donor families never ceases to move and inspire us.”
President Bush proclaimed April as National Donate Life Month, citing the growing needs of nearly 95,000 Americans on the national organ transplant waiting list. In Georgia, nearly 2,000 are on the waiting list. In 2006, 110 Georgians became living donors, and to date, nearly 1,800 Georgians are living donors. In 2004, the Georgia General Assembly passed Georgia State Bill 1410, which allows living donors to receive a tax deduction up to $10,000 on costs incurred due to organ donation. “All Georgians can make a difference by becoming an organ and tissue donor,” says Pat Sortor, chairperson of Donate Life Georgia. “Donor Recognition Day is a special day with Governor Perdue when we take the opportunity to show living organ donors and donor families how much they are appreciated and needed.”
According to United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), more than 8,000 people became deceased organ donors in the United States in 2006. This increase shows that Americans are not only becoming organ donors on their driver’s licenses, but are discussing the decision to become donors with their families. More than 6,000 people became living donors in 2006. The most donated organ from a living donor is a single kidney, accounting for approximately 95 percent of living donations. Other organs donated from a living donor, include a lobe of a lung, partial liver, pancreas or intestine.
“While donations from deceased and living donors have nearly doubled in the past 10 years, the number of people requiring a life-saving transplant continues to rise faster than the number of available donors,” says Sortor. “These numbers demonstrate that while more people are discussing donation with their families, the key to carrying out your wishes, we still have much work to do.”
One donor can potentially help more than 60 people. Every 12 minutes, a new name is added to the national transplant waiting list, which is approximately 300 individuals a month, according to the Health Resources and Administration Services. In addition nearly 6,000 people die annually, or 18 people each day, awaiting transplants. The Emory Transplant Center is one of the most advanced and comprehensive transplant centers in the Southeast. The Center brings together Emory University’s transplantation programs in heart, lung, liver, kidney, pancreas and islet. Ranked among the busiest solid organ transplant programs in the country, Emory’s division of transplantation’s clinical and research specialties are liver, kidney, kidney/pancreas and islet transplantation for adult and pediatric patients. Division faculty performed Georgia’s first transplants in the following specialties:
First kidney transplant in 1966
First liver transplant in 1987
First simultaneous kidney/pancreas operation in 1989
First living-related pediatric liver transplant in 1997
First laparoscopic living donor nephrectomy in 1999
First islet transplant to treat Type 1 diabetes in 2003
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