February is filled with conversations of the heart. On February 14, we celebrate the tradition of giving valentine hearts to friends and loved ones.
But February 14 is also National Donor Day, when we observe the importance of organ donation to the thousands of people who are on waiting lists for organ transplants—including donor hearts.
National Donor Day was designated in 1998 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Saturn Corp., and the United Auto Workers to raise awareness of organ, eye, tissue, marrow, platelet, and blood donation.
According to the Gift of Life Donor Program, there are nearly 4,000 people awaiting heart transplants in the U.S. There are more than 100 people on the waiting list in the Philadelphia region alone.
Most patients waiting for a heart have end-stage heart failure. It is a condition in which the heart is damaged or weak, making it unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. For patients who are waiting for a heart transplant, donation is their only option for survival. Because available donors are scarce, patients wait on average four months for a transplant.
Many people have “organ donor” written on their driver’s licenses. What this small phrase indicates is that, when they die, they have the ability to give the gift of life. One donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation and heal more than 75 lives through eye and tissue donation.
While the loss of a loved one is immeasurable, some families find solace knowing their loved one’s passing saved someone’s life. The Gift of Life Donor Program honors the generosity of donors by helping families showcase their loved one’s generous gifts at memorial celebrations.
By being an organ donor, you can give someone the gift of life and you can save a family from the loss of a loved one. Read more about National Donor Day and how to become an organ donor here.
While February brings to mind many matters of the heart, patients in need of a donor heart are added to the waiting list every day. Consider the lifesaving gift you can give by literally offering your heart.