More than 120,000 people across the United States are waiting for an organ transplant — 8,300 in Pennsylvania alone.
April is National Donate Life Month, recognizing those who need transplants, those who have donated and encouraging more people to do so.
“April’s really to get out there and make people aware of what the benefits of organ donation really is and what you can do for somebody who’s waiting and provide them a new life with the organ and a better life with cornea and or tissue” Patty Noah, an informatics nurse at Allegheny General Hospital, said. “So the need is very great for education and promotion.”
Noah said 17 people die each day while waiting for an organ.
“Every ten minutes somebody new is added to the waiting list,” Noah said. “So you see how that number just keeps on growing and really never has a chance to decrease and these people really are waiting a long time on the donor list.”
Three out of four on the waiting list need a kidney.
One donor can potentially save eight lives and help more than 50 people.
According to Noah, this could be because diabetes and hypertension affect the kidney, and patients with kidney disease can live longer with dialysis.
Liver, heart and lung transplants are also in high demand.
Noah said the two biggest misconceptions she has seen about organ donation are that it goes against religion and the EMS people will not save organ donors.
“The medical profession takes that oath to do everything in their power to be able to save you,” Noah said. “But sometimes you just can’t…and until that is the case and then you are pronounced.”
Allegheny General Hospital raised its Donate Life Month Flag Tuesday and plans to have several events throughout the month.
“We honored the 29 organ donors at Allegheny General Hospital had last year,” Noah said. “And as well as raising the flag we also lit 29 candles in honor of those 29 organ donors and we lit a 30th candle in honor of those patients who were tissue and cornea donors.”
According to Noah, anyone has the ability to become a donor regardless of age, race or medical history.
Those interested in signing up can do so on Donate Life Pennsylvania's website.