Donate Life in April

Donate Life in April

April is National Donate Life Month, which is an entire month dedicated to raising awareness about organ, eye and tissue donation. It is also the month to honor all donors and their families for the decision they have made to give the chance of life to another.

There are currently around 104,000 people needing an organ transplant in the U.S. and in 2023, there were 23,286 donors. Of the many thousands of people on the National Organ Transplant Waiting List, 753 of them are Oklahomans.

Organ transplant is necessary when a patient’s organ has failed or is damaged due to an injury or disease, and organ transplantation has been described as one of the marvels of modern medicine — almost 43,000 lives are saved by organ donors each year. Sadly, approximately 17 people die each day while waiting for a match and the need for organ donors continues to grow.

There are approximately 170 million people who have registered to be donors but out of those, only three in every one thousand die in a way that enables organs to be used.

In the majority of cases, people waiting for an organ donation are typically very sick and will die without a transplant. In other cases, receiving an organ will dramatically improve their lives by restoring their sight with a cornea transplant, or removing the need for dialysis.

Organs and Tissues for Transplant

The organs and tissues that can be transplanted are:

  • Heart
  • Lung
  • Kidney
  • Liver
  • Intestines
  • Pancreas
  • Cornea
  • Heart valves
  • Skin
  • Bone
  • Tendons
  • Cartilage

Types of Donation

Deceased Donation

A deceased donation is one in which an organ, eye or tissue is given to a recipient at the time of the donor’s death. Deceased donation includes organs, tissue and cornea donation.

When a patient is declared clinically or legally dead, the hospital will contact the organ procurement organization to check if the patient is registered to donate. If they are not registered, the family of the deceased patient can authorize a donation. There is no cost to the family.

Pediatric Donation

Organ size is critical to providing a successful transplant for a child, and children tend to respond more favorably to organs that are from children. Older children and adult organs can be used on children if they are a match, and sometimes children can receive partial organ donations including a piece of lung or liver.

At the moment, there are over 2,200 children under the age of 18 waiting for an organ. 38% of those are aged under five.

Pediatric transplants are necessary for conditions including:

  • kidney failure and chronic kidney disease
  • liver conditions including acute and chronic hepatitis
  • congenital heart disease and cardiomyopathy
  • lung conditions including cystic fibrosis and pulmonary hypertension
  • advanced intestinal disease

Children can receive both deceased and living donations. National Pediatric Transplant Week is the last week of April.

Why Become a Donor?

One organ donor can save up to eight lives as well as providing help to many more patients needing eye and tissue donation. There are so many reasons why being an organ and tissue donor is so important:

  1. The organ waiting list is very long.
  2. People die while waiting for an organ transplant.
  3. Organ donations save lives.
  4. There are no age exclusions for donors.
  5. Having a pre-existing medical condition does not disqualify a donor.
  6. Donors can be any race, ethnicity, income, gender or social status.

The need for donations is increasing as the number of people with vital organ failure increases. By signing up as a donor, many people on the waiting list are given hope, and for many, a second chance at life.

Becoming a Donor

LifeShare Oklahoma is a nonprofit procurement organization that works to recover organs and tissue for patients in need of donations. LifeShare works with OU Health Transplant Institute and other organizations in Oklahoma to facilitate donation.

Chief Operating Officer at LifeShare Network, Clint Hostetler, said, “We are grateful to OU Health’s staff, clinical team, administration and beyond who help make donation and transplantation possible. The combined efforts of OU Health’s team and our own, along with the generosity of Oklahomans and their families, have allowed us to give more second chances at life than ever before.”

Organ donation changes lives and it’s easy to register:

  1. Register at the tag agency when you get your license.
  2. Register online at
  3. Register in the health app on an iPhone

It’s important for donors to talk to their loved ones about their wishes to become a donor so that families can confidently follow those wishes at the time of death.

“Everyday people with end stage organ failure are dying due to lack of available donor organs,” said OU Health transplant surgeon, Narendra Battula, M.D. “Increased organ donation will help reduce the wait time and save more lives. As the state’s only comprehensive academic health system, we provide high-quality care for the most complex patients in need of transplant. Many of these people were not considered for transplant at other hospitals. OU Health gives them hope.”

Learn more about the OU Health Transplant Institute or call (405) 271-7498.