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Digestive Disorders

Surgeons Encourage Area Residents to Donate Organs, Save Lives

Over 105,000 people nationwide are on the waiting list for an organ transplant, thousands of whom live in Ohio.

With April being National Donate Life Month, experts are encouraging local residents to think about giving a piece of themselves to save lives.

Donation Shortages

According to the Ohio Organ Donation website, nearly 2,500 Ohio residents are waiting for a transplant daily, and one Ohio resident dies every other day while waiting for a life-saving transplant.

Hundreds more need eye and tissue donations to improve their quality of life.

There is a shortage of donors in areas, such as Cincinnati. Despite what many potential donors think, young people aren't the only ones who can give. Experts can use skin, tissue or organs from donors 70 years old and up. One donor could give up to seven organs, including the heart, liver, kidney and pancreas.

This simple act could save the lives of many people in the local area. There has been a shortage of live organ donors, especially for kidneys.

Between 50 and 65 percent of our kidney transplants should come from live donors. However, the numbers in the Cincinnati area are only 40 to 50 percent.

There is also a need for minority donors.

Liver Transplants

Although more people are waiting for kidney transplants, up to four times more than those waiting for a liver, the need for liver transplants can come on very suddenly. That means it's important to have healthy livers on hand. People with hepatitis C or alcohol problems are most of our transplant recipients.

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne infectious disease caused by the hepatitis C virus which infects the liver. The infection can cause liver inflammation that often shows no symptoms but can result later in cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and liver cancer. Since symptoms of liver inflammation caused by hepatitis C and alcohol abuse are often rare, people often have no idea they have a problem until fairly late in the disease process.

People at risk for hepatitis C should be screened regularly, and people who excessively use alcohol should also be on the lookout for liver problems. By being aware of the risks, a person could prevent him or herself from needing a liver transplant.

Become a Donor

Becoming a donor is as easy as surfing the Web.

There is an Ohio donor registry online that is easy to follow and complete. You never know whose life you may save. For more information on becoming a donor, visit the Ohio Organ Donation website.

This article originally appeared in UC Health Line (4/24/2008), a service of the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center Public Relations Department and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission, 2006.

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Last Reviewed: May 07, 2008

Steven  M Rudich, MD, PhD, FACS Steven M Rudich, MD, PhD, FACS
Formerly
Professor of Surgery, Director of Liver Transplat and Hepatobiliary Surgery
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati