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Letters to the editor: Organ donation month

By Alex McDonald
Intermountain Donor Services


Spring is in the air and that can only mean one thing, National Donate Life Month. April is National Donate Life Month, a month where organizations like Intermountain Donor Services and Utah's Donate Life Coalition raise awareness about the need for organ, eye, blood and tissue donation.

This year, as in many past years, citizens of Utah should be proud that we lead the nation in the number of people saying yes to donation. Currently, more than 70 percent of Utahns have signed up on the Yes Utah Donor Registry to express their donation wishes, one of the highest in the nation.

While this is great news, there is always more to be done. Many people have recently asked, if you have all those people signed up, why is there still such a shortage of organs available for transplant? The obituary pages are full every day, so what's going on? These are excellent questions.

What few people realize is that to become a donor, someone has to die in the hospital on a ventilator. In any given year, there is the potential for about 80 organ donors out of the 6,000 deaths a year in Utah. This means that approximately one out of every 75 deaths in Utah could be an organ donor. Each organ donor has the potential to save nine lives, so every single donor is vitally important to saving the lives of fellow Utahns.

So while 70 percent of people signing up on the Yes Utah Donor Registry sounds impressive, and it is, there is still more to do. When asked in professionally done surveys, "In general, do you support or oppose the donation of organs and tissue for transplant?" 96 percent of Utahns say they support donation. So where are the other 26 percent that haven't signed up? Typically it is because of a myth or misconception about donation, and that brings us back to April being National Donate Life Month.

We want to help dispel those myths and misconceptions that keep people from saying "yes" to donation, even though they may support it because so many lives hang in the balance.

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