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April is National Donate Life Month – and there are many ways to give

April 13, 2015

Nurse with Patients Receiving Blood

Almost every American faces the choice to become an organ donor when he or she gets a driver's license or registers to vote. Social media has also played a role in recruiting organ donors. By increased awareness through mass encounters such as these, the decision to become an organ donor has become mainstream.  Many respond positively out of a desire to help, however despite the increased awareness and willingness of many to act, there are still far more people who need organs than there are donations. April marks National Donate Life Month, a time to further spread awareness of this important cause. iSpecimen is proud to support Donate Life America (DLA) in bringing attention to this issue.

Despite Awareness, Still a Need
According to DLA, more than 123,000 men, women, and children are currently awaiting organ transplants to save their lives, and another person joins their ranks every 10 minutes. Thousands more are in need of tissue and cornea transplants to restore their mobility and sight. While 28,953 organ transplants were achieved through 14,257 donors in 2013, an average of 21 people continue to lose their life each day due to insufficient organ availability. Remarkably, a single registered organ donor has the potential to save or improve more than 50 lives. The potential impact that one individual can have is astounding. Tissue donation is also imperative, as over 1 million tissue transplants are done each year and the need continues to rise.

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From Awareness to Action
With the need for organ and tissue donations, awareness campaigns such as bringing the decision to the public masses have undoubtedly helped but there is still more to be done. According to DLA, while 90% of Americans say they support donation, only 30% report knowing the specific steps it takes to be a donor. Likeminded organizations such as OneBlood and the American Red Cross have had great success in raising awareness about blood and blood component donation, but this too needs more participation. In fact, the Red Cross reports that with 38% of the U.S. population eligible to donate blood, less than 10% actually do each year. Nonetheless, the significant efforts made by these organizations as well as Donate Life America have pushed hard at the first step – awareness of the issue – and in that regard there has been great success. In fact, DLA reports that 98% of all adults have heard about organ donation and 86% have heard of tissue donation. Continued education and drive to action is what is needed next.

How You can Help
To learn more about organ and tissue donation, visit www.donatelife.net. You can register to become a donor or you can donate financially to further the cause. iSpecimen is pleased to play a role in supporting Donate Life America with the goal of improving quality of life and care for those who need it.

Looking ahead
Not dissimilar to the need for organ and tissue donation is the need for human biospecimen donation for research – a cause close to iSpecimen's day-to-day dealings that warrants further public education. Many individuals have no idea that at a routine doctor's appointment they can donate samples to help find new treatments and cures. Aurora Health Care is one institution that is already promoting this via patient education and a biorepository. As we take time this month to recognize National Donate Life month, and the importance of organ and tissue donation, it serves us well collectively to think about all of the ways that lives can be saved through the selflessness of educated and aware individuals.

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