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This month Donate Life, register as an organ, eye and tissue donor

Cathryn Cunningham/Diary

April is National Gift of Life Month, commemorating those who have received vital organ transplants, recognizing those who continue to wait, honoring the donors and their families who made such a meaningful donation, and encouraging all new Mexicans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors.

According to New Mexico Donor Services, New Mexicans saved a record number of lives through organ donation in 2021. The state saw 93 donor heroes. More than 700 New Mexicans are currently awaiting lifesaving organ transplants. Thousands more await healing from corneal and tissue transplants. Nationally, 17 people die each day while waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant, and one person is added to the waiting list every nine minutes.

You can make an impact by becoming an organ, eye, and tissue donor by signing up for the New Mexico Donor Registry with the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles or online at BeTheGiftToday.com and informing your next of kin of your decision.

New Mexico Donor Services is a nonprofit organization that works with families to guide them through the donation process, organize medical teams, find matches, and provide post-donation support to families.

Who can be a donor?

People of all ages and medical backgrounds should consider themselves potential organ, eye and tissue donors. Your state of health at the time of death will determine which organs and tissues can be donated.

Living donors must be in good general physical and mental health and over the age of 18. Certain medical conditions could prevent a person from being a living donor. Transplant programs perform a comprehensive patient assessment to protect the health and safety of the living donor and recipient.

Does it change my patient care?

Your life always comes first. Doctors work hard to save every patient’s life, but sometimes there is a complete and irreversible loss of brain function. The patient is declared clinically and legally dead. Only then is donation an option.

Does my religion support it?

All major religions support giving as a final act of compassion and generosity.

Is there a cost to donate?

There is no cost to the donor’s family or estate for the donation. The donor’s family pays only pre-death medical costs and costs associated with funeral arrangements.

Is wealth or fame taken into account?

No. A national system matches available donor organs with people on the waiting list based on blood type, body size, health status, distance from the donor, tissue type and time on the list. Race, income, gender, fame and social status are never considered.

Why record my decision?

The vast majority of Americans support giving as an opportunity to give life and health to others. Unfortunately, many people overlook the important step of signing up as a donor. Only three in 1,000 people die in a way that allows organ donation. Donors are often people who die suddenly and unexpectedly. Their families must then make the decision at a time of shock and grief. Registration relieves your family of this burden.

And with organ, eye and tissue donation, you can save up to eight lives and heal the lives of over 75 people. Your registration is a beacon of hope for waiting patients, and sharing it with your family lets them know about your decision.

What organs can I donate after my death?

• Kidneys (2)

• Liver

• Lungs (2)

• Heart

• Pancreas

• Intestines

What organs can I donate in my lifetime?

• Kidney

• A lung

• Part of the liver

• Part of the pancreas

• Part of the intestine

What is eye donation?

You can donate your corneas when you register as an organ, eye and tissue donor. This allows you to leave behind the gift of sight.

What fabrics can we donate?

• The middle ear

• The skin

• Heart valves

• Bone

• Veins

• Cartilages

• Tendon

• Ligaments

Doctors use them to cover burns, repair hearts, replace veins, and repair damaged connective tissue and cartilage.

Where is it going

New Mexico has two transplant centers. Presbyterian Hospital Transplant Center-Kidney and Pancreas Transplant, phs.org/doctors-services/services-centers/transplant-services/Pages/default.aspx, (505) 841-1434 and University Hospital Transplant Services-Kidney Transplant Program, unmhealth. org/services/kidney-care/transplant-services.html, (505) 272-3100.

New Mexicans have a long and proud history of service in many ways. This service includes being a living donor and a deceased donor.

Sources: Donatelife.net., donatelifenm.org, organdonor.gov

Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.