Urgent Reading: U.S. Needs More Organ Donors

Jun 10, 2013, 1:41 PM

Last week, efforts to add a ten year old with cystic fibrosis to the list of adult patients waiting to get donated lungs, increasing her chances of a transplant, made big news. NewPublicHealth had planned to write about the urgent need for citizens to step up and sign on to become organ donors and help whittle down the long lists of patients desperately waiting for hearts, lungs, kidneys and other organs. But our colleagues at the The Public’s Health, a well-worth-reading public health blog hosted by the Philadelphia Inquirer, beat us to it. We urge you to read the post by Michael Yudell, one of the blog’s writers as well as an associate professor at the Drexel University School of Public Health.

Writes Yudell:

"…The demand for organs in the United States far outpaces the supply. There are currently 75,650 active candidates (meaning they are medically suitable for a transplant) waiting for organs in the United States. But 18 people die every day, on average, waiting for an organ transplant."

In the post, Professor Yudell raises several ideas to help increase organ donations—including incentives. In Israel, he notes, “which historically had low donor rates, a law passed in 2010 gives transplant priority to individuals who were already registered as donors, though medical necessity would still be the most important criteria for receiving an organ.” Yudell says that incentives have raised the number of organs available in that country “dramatically.”

Read the post as well as find out how to sign up to be a donor in your state.

Also keep in mind the urgent need for one type of donations that only live donors can provide: blood—which is always in critical supply during summer months when accident rates rise and donations tend to drop off because of vacation schedules. Click here to find out how to donate blood in your area.

>>Bonus Link: Read a NewPublicHealth interview with Michael Yudell, and Jonathan Purtle, another writer for The Public’s Health, conducted during last year’s American Public Health Association meeting.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.