The gift of life

Published 6:36 pm Friday, April 22, 2016

Will my doctors still try to save my life if they know I’m a registered organ donor? This is one of the 10 most frequently asked questions about organ, eye and tissue donation. The answer is “absolutely, yes.” If you are sick or injured, the only priority is to save your life, whether or not you are a registered donor.

April is Donate Life Month and this year Vidant Beaufort Hospital is proud to be participating in the Workplace Partnership for Life Campaign, a national initiative that was created in 2001 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The campaign unites HHS with hospitals and other organizations to spread the word about the importance of organ, eye, tissue, blood and bone marrow donation. Workplace Partners make a commitment to educate their employees, patients and communities about the critical importance of organ donation.

For example, did you know?

One organ donor can save up to eight lives. One eye and tissue donor can enhance the lives of as many as 50 people. More than 28,000 lives are saved every year by organ donors. Last year, the United States exceeded 30,000 annual organ transplants for the first time.


Who can donate?

People of any age, including the very young and the very old, can be donors. Anyone over the age of 18 can register to be a donor. If a child under the age of 18 dies, parents must decide whether to donate the child’s organs to help others and share the gift of life.

Even with a medical condition, donation may be possible. When someone dies, donation professionals determine whether any of the deceased’s organs can be used for transplantation.


Can people of different ethnicities match?

Yes. Organs are not matched according to race or ethnicity, and people of different races frequently match one another.


Is there a cost to my family for organ donation?

No. There is no cost to donors or their families for organ, eye or tissue donation.


How do I indicate my decision to donate?

Sign up on North Carolina’s state donor registry either at the motor vehicle office or start online at It’s that easy. After you’ve registered, tell your family of your wishes and save them from making the decision at a difficult time.

There is no greater gift than the Gift of Life. One of the greatest success stories in modern medicine is the ability to transplant organs and tissues. Because of organ donation, many people with life-threatening illnesses can look forward to a future and a second chance at life. Others can experience a better quality of life through donated tissues such as corneas, skin, bone and heart valves.

More than 123,000 men, women and children are on the organ transplant waiting list in the United States. Sadly, for many of them, an organ will not become available in time. On average, 21 people die every day waiting for a generous donor — and the gift of life.


What can be donated?

Organs and tissues that can be donated and transplanted include: kidneys, heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, intestines, hands, face, corneas, skin, heart valves, bone, veins, cartilage, tendons and ligaments.

Vidant Beaufort has used the following methods to provide education for its staff, patients, and community: flyers on hospital bulletin boards; tent cards in the hospital cafeteria, the Up Front Café and the Gift Shop; organ donation education during every employee’s hospital orientation and again annually prior to evaluations; Facebook postings; articles in the Beaufort Buzz (Vidant Beaufort’s employee newsletter); and providing pamphlets on organ donation at community health fairs, senior expos, etc.


How can you help?

While more than 120 million people have registered as donors, more are needed — because very few die in a way that make them eligible to donate. Imagine how many lives could be saved and improved if all Americans made the decision to donate the gift of life.

As Vidant Beaufort Hospital’s liaison with Carolina Donor Services, I would like to encourage each and every one of you to consider registering as an organ donor if you haven’t done so already. Together, we can make such a positive difference in so many people’s lives.

Lynne Fisher RN, MSN, is a quality nurse with Vidant Beaufort Hospital.