Nonprofit wants more to consider organ donations

Published 8:14 am Wednesday, April 7, 2010

FRANKLIN—The statistics are staggering. More than 105,000 people are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant in the United States and more than 600 of them are younger than 6 years old.

On average, 18 people die every day across the nation while waiting for transplants.

“April is National Donate Life Month, so it’s the perfect time for people to consider signing up as organ and tissue donors,” said Dena Reynolds, a spokeswoman for LifeNet Health, the nonprofit organization that coordinates organ donation in Virginia.

Southampton Memorial Hospital in Franklin raised a “Donate Life” flag last week to recognize those who have donated, honor the recipients of those donations and to support those on the waiting list, said Sandra Vick, LifeNet liaison for the hospital.

“I think it’s really important that people understand that being an organ and tissue donor can save seven lives and enhance over 50,” she said.

LifeNet Health is hosting a display about organ and tissue donation 10 a.m. to 2 p. m. April 28 at SMH.

One donor can save seven lives through donation of the heart, liver, two kidneys, pancreas, lungs and small intestine.

Reynolds said SMH is one of more than 80 hospitals across the state that LifeNet serves to coordinate organ donations.

Some people might assume that SMH can’t provide the organ donation services because it’s a small hospital, but Vick said that’s not true.

“We can see that their wishes for donation are carried out,” she said. “We consider it part of their end-of-life care, if that’s their wish.”

Both Reynolds and Vick said common misconceptions keep many from becoming donors.

“Some people think they’re not going to be able to have an open casket funeral when they die, and that’s just not true,” Reynolds said. “You can have an open casket funeral if you’re an organ and tissue donor.”

Other questions often arise about religion, but Reynolds said “every major religion in the United States supports donation.”

She hopes efforts, like the flag at SMH, will help raise awareness of the need of donors.

Anyone interested in becoming an organ, tissue or eye donor can register at or the Department of Motor Vehicles.