Donate Life: The Impact of Donation and Transplantation

Over the last few weeks, you have heard about the impact of donation and transplantation on the lives of those in the Sigma Pi community. How does Donate Life America fit into the picture?

Donate Life America is a not-for-profit alliance of national organizations and state teams across the United States committed to increasing organ, eye and tissue donation. Our mission is to drive individuals, organizations and communities to increase the number of designated organ, eye and tissue donors who save and heal lives. One day, we hope and believe organ, eye and tissue donation will be embraced as a fundamental human responsibility.

The Donate Life America office is located in Richmond, Virginia. We manage the national brand for donation, Donate Life, and assist states in facilitating high-performing donor registries; developing and executing effective multi-media donor education programs; and motivating the American public to register now as organ, eye and tissue donors.

Donate Life operates on a local level through Donate Life State Teams. State Teams are comprised of volunteers from local organ procurement organizations (OPOs), tissue and eye banks, transplant hospitals and DMVs. Other members may include people from the local community touched by donation and transplantation, such as donor families and recipients, or volunteers from other donation-related organizations. These groups are on the ground maintaining registries and doing local outreach through media outlets, schools, DMVs, awareness events and donor drives to increase donor designation.

Donor designation, or a legal and registered decision to donate, is currently collected on a state level through donor registries. Most people have the opportunity to sign up at their local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or online through a state registry website. As of December 31, 2013, over 117 million Americas had designated their decision—about 48% of all state residents age 18 and over.

At the time of one’s death, if certain conditions are met, healthcare professionals review these registries to see if the individual indicated their wish to become an organ, eye and tissue donor. Then they work with local organ procurement organizations (OPOs) and United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) to coordinate lifesaving and life healing transplants for matches on the national waiting list. (You can visit to find a map connecting you to your state’s registry and to learn more about the donation and transplantation process.)

Why is it important to register your decision? One organ donor can save up to eight lives through his or her gifts of a heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas, liver and intestines. Even if the death conditions are not met for someone to be an organ donor, they may still be able to donate tissue. One tissue donor can heal the lives of more than 50 people through heart valves, corneas, bones, skin, tendons, veins and more. You can also save a life by becoming a living donor and donating a kidney or a partial liver, lung, intestine or pancreas.

The Numbers

The numbers involved with donation and transplantation form a compelling case.

  • Last year, more than 8,000 deceased donors made possible approximately 23,000 organ transplants.
  • More than 48,000 sight-restoring corneal transplants were performed.
  • There were nearly 6,000 additional transplants made possible by living donors.
  • Each year, approximately 30,000 tissue donors save and heal lives.

Selfless gifts of generosity have saved thousands of lives, but many more continue to wait and suffer. As of March 20, approximately 123,416 men, women and children currently await lifesaving organ transplants. On average, 21 people die each day because the organs they need are not donated in time. And these numbers continue to grow. There are simply not enough organs to meet the increasing need.

The Challenge

The challenge we face is this: How can we get more donors? How can we save more lives? Through Cameron’s generous decision to be an organ donor, five people who once were waiting are now living. It is the gift of a donor’s heart that will save Paul’s life. We all have the power to be a part of this heroic mission.

For National Donate Life Month, we challenge you, Sigma Pi, to go out and inspire, recruit, give hope. Dispel myths and fears about donation. Lead by example by registering your decision to donate and motivate others in your community to do the same. Support those that are waiting and those who have been touched by donation and transplantation.

One more person registered is one step closer to saving more lives.