On Your Health

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Organ Donation in Oklahoma

Every day, nearly 118,000 people across the country wait for a lifesaving organ donation. That list includes more than 700 Oklahomans at any given time, according to LifeShare Transplant Donor Services of Oklahoma, a nonprofit, federally-designated organ procurement organization. Its website says 487 lives were saved and enhanced through organ, eye and tissue donation in Oklahoma last year.

However, demand for donation far outstrips the availability of organs. Every day, 81 Americans receive an organ transplant, but 22 people die while waiting, according to LifeShare.

Since Feb. 14 is National Donor Day, we wanted to highlight how easy it is to become a donor in Oklahoma.

Organ transplant wait lists

The wait time for patients needing an organ transplant can vary because of several factors. For example, a patient who needs one type of organ may wait longer than a patient who needs a different organ. Here are a few other factors:

  • The medical urgency of the recipient’s diagnosis.
  • The age of the recipient.
  • Blood types of both the recipient and the donor.
  • The distance between a donor and possible recipients.
  • The size of the donor’s organ in relation to the size of the potential recipient.

Some people don’t sign up to be organ donors because they presume they’re too old or they aren’t healthy enough to donate. But each person who is an organ donor has the possibility to help others in many ways.

For every donor, there’s the opportunity to give life to a heart recipient, two lung recipients, two kidney recipients, a liver recipient and a pancreas recipient as well as multiple potential recipients for tissue and eyes.

How to become an organ donor in Oklahoma

Oklahomans have three ways to become organ donors. The process is simple. You only need to register through one of these methods.

  • Sign up when you get your driver’s license. When you get a new driver’s license or state ID card, you should be asked if you would like to be an organ donor. If you do, a little heart will be added to your ID, and you will be added to the donor registry.
  • Enroll online. You can enroll online through LifeShare. The process takes a few minutes.
  • Call to receive a registration form. Call (800) 826-5433, and a donor registration form can be mailed to it. After you fill it out, simply mail it back.

Joining the donor registry is free, and you have the chance to save multiple lives with your gift. It also can have a surprising effect on those you’ll leave behind. Organ donation has been shown in studies to provide enormous benefit to grieving families and obviously provides an incredible benefit to the organ recipients as well.

Since every transplant story is different, we are including two different transplant stories performed at the Nazhi Zuhdi Transplant Institute at INTEGRIS Baptist Medical Center. You can read more about a liver transplant here and more about a heart transplant here.

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