Published on February 14, 2023 | Since 1998, February 14 has been observed as National Donor Day. Beyond sending valentines, this day is dedicated to spreading awareness and education about organ, eye, and tissue donation. Donation an organ or tissue is one of the most generous acts a person can do.
According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, a total of 6,466 people became living organ donors in 2022. Setting a new record, kidney transplants exceeded 25,000 for the first year ever. This is an increase of 3.4% over 2021 and tens of thousands of lives changed for better.
1. Deciding to give a kidney donation
While it’s easy to see why people become living donors, each donor has their own path to making the leap. Last spring, Craig Gile shared the story of how he became a living donor to his friend, Klee. It was a big decision, but ultimately, the right one for him. On National Donor Day, we celebrate donors like Craig who give others a new chance at life.
“The lesson from this is that you should live your life in such a way that if something like this were to happen to you, someone would offer to do this for you,” shared Craig.
2. Preparing for a kidney transplant
With about 90,000 people waiting for a lifesaving kidney transplant, ensuring equitable allocation of kidneys is a priority for the entire donation and transplant community. in 2021, kidney and pancreas policies took effect to “improve access for key groups of candidates, including children, women, ethnic minorities and candidates who are particularly hard to match for biological reasons.”
With such a long waitlist for transplants, it’s important for patients to be prepared. Last month, we shared an article from our magazine, PKD Life, that helps outline everything you should keep in mind ahead of a kidney transplant.
3. Sharing a kidney donation story
Imagine being a nephrologist and learning you have ADPKD from a routine day in the office. That was a reality for Greg Zollner, M.D. On National Donor Day last year, Greg shared the touching story of how his friend became his living donor. In his own words, Greg details his unique perspective of being on both sides of a nephrology appointment. National Donor Day is a great time to share your story and raise awareness of PKD.
4. Learning about protections for living donors
Living donors play a vital role in treatment for numerous diseases, including PKD. Unfortunately, what comes after their generous gift can be a headache. Since 2021, we’ve worked with the National Kidney Foundation, America Kidney Fund, Northwest Kidney Council, and Dialysis Patient Citizens to promote the Living Donor Protections Act (LDPA). So, what does that mean? At a state level, LDPA laws protect living organ donors from being fired solely for taking time off to recover from their surgery and prevent them from having their insurance premiums raised or be outright denied coverage for being a donor. In addition, many of these bills provide tax assistance or medical leave for donors.
Want to learn more about the LDPA? Check out this blog.
5. Joining the Transplant Games of America
Did you know very two years the Transplant Games of America hosts the world’s largest celebration of life? Their event brings together thousands of transplant recipients, living donors, donor families, caregivers, transplant professionals, and more. Over a week, 40 state teams and several international teams, consisting of transplant recipients and living donors, compete in 20 recreational and athletic competitions. Last year, the PKD community was in attendance with Iris Resto.
You can learn all about her experience at the games here.
Thank you to everyone who’s chosen to give the gift of life by becoming a living donor! To learn more about the living donor process and transplantation, check out these resources.