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Guest column:
April is National Donate Life Month. Are you an organ donor?
by Jennifer Shannon, PharmD
April 19, 2013 10:30 AM | 4422 views | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Every 10 minutes, another name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list, and sadly, approximately 18 people die each day waiting for an organ.

Today, nearly 115,000 men, women, and children await organ transplants in the United States. This number is enough to populate a small city.

In Georgia alone, 3,803 residents are currently waiting for an organ.

Most organs come from deceased donors; however, roughly 6,000 organs come from healthy, living donors and in 2011, 28,535 transplants were performed across the country.

According to the literature on organ donation, 98 percent of adults report that they have heard of organ donation, however, only 86 percent have heard of tissue donation.

More alarming is the fact that 90% of Americans support organ donation, but only 30 percent are aware of how to become an organ donor.

Despite multiple years and efforts to educate the public about organ donation, awareness is still amazingly low. By now, you are likely wondering why a pharmacist is writing about organ donation. Although I do not practice in the transplant arena, I grew up with a mother who dedicated much of her life as a champion for organ donation.

When I was in college, I was fortunate to witness a living-donor kidney transplant performed by an amazing transplant surgeon who showed me the true miracles of modern medicine through organ donation.

Witnessing a daughter give life back to her mother had a profound impact on my views of organ donation and how important it was to share this message.

I realized how much life one human body can provide for others; and it is estimated that one body can save up to 9 lives through organ donation.

Organs and tissues that can be donated include: the heart, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, liver, intestines, corneas, skin, tendons, bone, and heart valves.

You may have considered donating an organ to a friend or relative, or thought about filling out a donor card when you renew your driver’s license.

Before you reject or accept the idea, it’s important to understand the facts about organ donation.

Many base their decision on incorrect information they have seen or heard, and it’s important to base your decision on the truth.

If you want to learn more about organ donation, contact Donate Life Georgia at (866) 57-SHARE (74273) or visit their website at

Get to know a few facts about organ donation and consider becoming a donor:

· Medical professionals do EVERYTHING they can to save your life regardless of your decision to donate organs.

· There is no special consideration due to age, sex, race, sexual orientation, occupation, social status, or financial status when determining who gives or receives an organ transplant.

· Everyone, regardless of their age or medical condition, is urged to join Georgia’s organ, tissue, and eye donor registry

· An open casket funeral is possible for organ, tissue, and eye donors. The donor is treated with respect and dignity throughout the process.

· There is no cost to the donor or their family for organ, tissue, and eye donation.

· All major eastern and western religions either fully endorse donation as an act of human benevolence, in keeping with religious doctrine, or leave the decision up to the individual. No major religion opposes organ donation. If you have questions regarding your faith’s position on organ donation, it is encouraged that you talk with your religious leader.

Dr. Shannon currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice and an Ambulatory Care Pharmacist in the community. This summer, she will be opening Lily's Pharmacy of Alpharetta, named for her daughter, located in the historic downtown district. Her areas of special interest include anticoagulation, cholesterol management, diabetes, heart failure, and hypertension.

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