National Donate Life Month (NDLM) was established by Donate Life America and its partnering organizations in 2003. Celebrated in April each year, NDLM features an entire month of local, regional and national activities to help encourage Americans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors and to celebrate those that have saved lives through the gift of donation.
If you have PBC, the idea that someday you might need a liver transplant isn’t easy to think about. I know I didn’t want to consider it, when I was diagnosed in 1992.
But I wish I’d been more prepared for the challenges that arose in 2005, when I learned that I needed a new liver. I hope that sharing my story, today, will help you if and when a transplant becomes necessary.
Some Kentucky surgeons worry that a new way of allocating livers to U.S transplant patients could be detrimental, or even deadly, to people in the bluegrass state.
“The fear in Kentucky and many southern states, and many states that have transplant centers that represent rural patients, is … we’re going to become organ farms for large cities,” said Dr. Malay Shah, surgical director of liver transplant for UK HealthCare in Lexington.
The board that handles the issue on a national level passed a new policy earlier this month that will give patients who live in distant locales, such as Chicago, access to livers donated in Kentucky. The policy affects the handling of livers from most deceased adult donors across the country.
A bill to expand organ donor registration in Kentucky has successfully made it through the state House of Representatives and now awaits Gov. Matt Bevin’s signature. It is expected to take effect next year.
The legislation, backed by Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates and Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks’ Trust for Life, was approved by the House on Tuesday after being passed by the Senate earlier this month.
Senate Bill 77 will make it possible to register for organ donation through the Kentucky Online Gateway, a single sign-on system for accessing various government programs. The public also can continue to use old methods, such as signing up when getting a driver’s license or by going online to donatelifeky.org.
We have a liver selection meeting every Wednesday to consider which patients will get transplants. Each patient is listed by name, age, weight, diagnosis and MELD score – a number, based entirely on lab values, that predicts how bad their liver is and correlates with how likely they are to die waiting for a transplant. A score of 15 is where we start to consider transplantation, and 40 means a 90 percent chance of dying within three months.
Scanning the list, I noticed with discomfort that the patients at the top, with a MELD of 35 or more, had mostly the same diagnoses: alcoholic liver disease; nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, a consequence of obesity leading to fatty liver; and an occasional hepatitis C, a virus that was once the most common indication for liver transplant but now is being cured. This was not surprising. These diagnoses make up greater than 60 percent of the national waitlist, and that number continues to grow.
Organ, eye and tissue donation gives people a second chance at life.
One American dies nearly every hour waiting for a transplant – yet a single organ donor can save as many as eight lives.
Registration at this link: Enter your information to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor.
While KODA only works with deceased donors, living donation is a program we love and promote as well.
Living donation is completely voluntary. Being a registered organ donor does not mean you will be called to give an organ while living.
To start the process of becoming a living donor, you must contact the transplant center of the patient you’re donating to. After that, the process involves rigorous health testing and matching.
There are two transplant hospitals in the state of Kentucky that have a living donation program: Jewish Hospital in Louisville and University of Kentucky Hospital in Lexington. The two most commonly used organs for living donation are the kidney and liver. You only need one kidney in order to live and the liver regenerates (grows back) which makes this type of donation possible.