Give the gift of life this holiday season

Give the gift of life this holiday season

Sign up for Kentucky’s organ donor registry
Give the gift of life this holiday season

Michael Hughes, M.D.

The University of Louisville and KentuckyOne Health facilities are working this holiday season to build awareness about giving the ultimate gift: the gift of life. Whether it be signing up for the state’s donor registry, or participating in a living donation, organ donation can truly give someone a new lease on life.

According to Donate Life, every 10 minutes in America, another name is added to the National Transplant List and on average, 18 people die every day from the lack of available organs for transplant. More than 120,000 people in the United States are currently on the waiting list for a lifesaving organ transplant.

While most organ donations happen after death, Kentucky residents also can make a living donation. Living donors may donate a kidney, or a part of the liver, lung, intestine, blood or bone marrow.

About 6,000 living donations take place each year, most commonly when a relative or friend donates to a loved one. Donating to a stranger is more rare. Fewer than 10 percent of living donations are non-directed.

“Organ donation is a very generous gift,” said Michael Hughes, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Surgery, director of living donors and transplant surgeon with University of Louisville Physicians. “Many individuals may not realize that you don’t have to know someone in need to be a donor.”

Before someone makes a living donation, he or she must undergo extensive tests to ensure that they are in adequate physical and mental health, and that the donation will not adversely affect their wellbeing in the long term.

Candy Campbell of Louisville donated one of her kidneys to a stranger in December 2011 at the Trager Transplant Center at Jewish Hospital, a part of KentuckyOne Health.

“This was an easy decision for me,” Campbell said. “I am healthy and someone else has 15 hours a week of dialysis and does not have the quality of life that I do."

Campbell became an advocate for living donation after learning about her co-workers need for a transplant. Two years later, Candy is living a healthy life, with no side effects from her surgery.

Hughes conducted Campbell’s portion of the transplant procedure.

“The kindness of people like Candy allows us to continue our ground-breaking work in transplantation,” said Hughes. “Thanks to their generous acts, we can save lives and help more patients in need of a transplant.”

For Kentuckians, joining the Kentucky Donor Registry is as easy as logging on to the donatelifeky.org website or signing up when you renew your driver’s license. The donor registry enables your family members to know that you chose to save and enhance lives through donation.