Organ donation still vital during holiday season

MGN Online

HARLINGEN – The holiday season is often seen as a time for gift-giving.

It’s fitting then that local residents take this time to register as organ donors in an effort to give the most precious gift of all – the gift of life, said Tina Briones EdD, RN Valley Baptist-Harlingen. Although National Donate Life Month is not until April 2020, there’s no better time to consider registering to be an organ donor.

“Organ donation means life. By donating our organs, we are not only being charitable, but we are helping others to live a better quality of life,” Briones said. “It is helping our brothers and sisters to live without having to be hooked up to a dialysis machine for the rest of their lives. It means those in our community will live to see their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren live. When we donate, we go on living in someone else’s body. Our corneas allow others to see better, our bones and tissues help others to walk and participate in other daily activities.”

While Valley Baptist-Harlingen has dedicated itself to raising awareness regarding the importance of organ donation in the Valley, the need for donated organs remains high both locally and throughout the nation. According to the Health Resources & Services Administration, more than 113,000 men, women and children were on the national organ transplant list as of January 2019, and 20 people die each day while awaiting a transplant.

More than 10,000 people on the transplant list are from Texas.

Because 95 percent of adults in the United States support organ donation but only 58 percent are signed up as donors, according to the Health Resources & Services Administration, Briones said that raising awareness regarding the issue, especially within the local community where there are a number of misconceptions surrounding organ donation, is key to chipping away at the staggering need.

“Even though we continue to make progress in educating our community, the myths related to organ donation can be difficult to dispel,” Briones said. “We will continue to work hard for the benefit of our community, because organ donation is important not only to our administration, but to all of Valley Baptist’s departments and employees.”

As part of its efforts to raise awareness regarding organ donation, Valley Baptist-Harlingen also hosts a “Wall of Heroes” celebration each April, inviting the community to honor organ donors and their families for so generously giving the gifts of life and sight.

“The Wall of Heroes celebration is recognition of the families and wonderful people who have been organ donors throughout the year,” Briones said. “Raising awareness regarding organ donation truly is a joint effort between Valley Baptist and the community we love and serve.”

For more information on how to register as an organ donor, visit the Donate Life Texas Registry website at www.DonateLifeTexas.org.

Here are a few facts regarding organ donation:
● Donation does not disfigure the body or prevent an open casket funeral.● Organ and tissue donation is considered only after all efforts to save the patient’s life have been exhausted and death has been legally declared.

● There is no major religion in the U.S. that is opposed to organ and tissue donation. In fact, many religions endorse organ and tissue donation as an act of charity.

● Few people are too old or too young to donate. Currently there are no age limits for donors. At the time of your death, medical professionals will determine whether your organs are transplantable.

● The organ allocation system is blind to wealth, celebrity and social status. Donated organs are placed in recipients based on best medical match and most critical need.

● No costs directly related to organ or tissue donation are passed on to the donor’s family or estate.