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Organ Transplantation and the Link to Life

While the healthcare group purchasing industry has evolved over the years to include sophisticated product selection based on patient outcomes and reimbursement data, one thing has stayed the same: achieving our goal requires a delicate balance of supply, demand, and timing. Falling short in any one of those areas can put lives at risk.

My interest in getting the right products to the right patients at the right time is what drew me to devote my own time and resources to LiveOnNY. As a past board member, I’ve seen firsthand the enormous amount of coordination required to successfully operate LiveOnNY, the nation’s second-largest organ procurement organization (OPO), dedicated to providing organ and tissue recovery services for the New York metropolitan area. It is one of just 58 OPOs in the United States. Under federal law, these are the only organizations that can perform organ recovery services.

Like purchasing groups, OPOs are neither healthcare providers nor suppliers. These transplant networks sit in-between, connecting critical organs with the patients who literally cannot live without them. So during April, which is National Donate Life Month, I want to add my voice to the call for organ donors in the Greater New York area and across the United States.

The need for organ donors has reached an all-time high. Right here in my own community, more than 10,000 New Yorkers are awaiting organ transplants. Nationally, that number rises to more than 120,000. In this country, an average 22 people die every day waiting for organ transplants. A new name is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes.

While the need to save lives is by far the most important driver for organ donation, organ transplantation is also a prime example of a healthcare treatment where the long-term outcome far outweighs the near-term costs. For example, the cumulative cost of dialysis for a patient waiting to receive a kidney transplant will surpass the cost of transplantation after only two years. And after five years on dialysis, the cumulative cost is nearly double that associated with transplantation. So, in addition to saving lives, organ donation helps contain healthcare costs.

The need for organ donors is significant and undeniable. But what can one person do to solve such a huge problem? It’s as simple as going to http://www.organdonor.gov and completing an organ donor registration form. A single organ donor can save up to eight lives.

Anyone can make this gift, which will keep on giving. I can’t think of a more powerful legacy.

Lee H. Perlman

Already registered as an organ donor and want to help spread the word during National Donate Life Month? Here are some simple ways you can use social media to share the importance of organ donation:

  • Create an ad with your personal story as part of the Long Live NY campaign: longliveny.org
  • Add badges to your profile and get sample wording for posts from the United Network for Organ Sharing: unos.org
  • Customize your Facebook or Twitter profile picture to show your support: twibbon.com
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Donate Life: New York Organ Donor Network

Organ Donation: A Gift That Changes and Saves Lives

April is National Donate Life Month. As a passionate advocate and board member of the New York Organ Donor Network (NYODN), I want to bring the dire need for organ donors to the fore. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network website, there are currently over 122,000 people waiting for lifesaving organ transplants in the United States. However, a recent editorial in the Albany Times Union entitled “A New Way to N.Y.’s Heart” points out that, despite our efforts, “New York has the nation’s third lowest rate of organ donor registrations.” (The highest rate? Montana.)

The irony is that New York is also the third most populated state in the country—making both our donation pool larger and our organ needs greater. Some states make it easier than others to become an organ donor, which is why I am pleased to hear that Governor Cuomo and our legislators are taking steps to improve our donor registry here in New York. But we shouldn’t let red tape stand in the way of doing what’s right.

Organ donation saves lives. It’s as simple as that. Donated organs provide those in need with a second chance, and for many, an improved quality of life. In fact, one donor alone can save up to eight lives or impact up to 50 lives by donating tissues and eyes. I realize that a big part of the donor challenge is asking people to think about and plan for their own mortality. But I also can’t think of a better legacy than giving the gift of a healthier life to another person. The positive impact of organ donation should far outweigh the fears.

For more information, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services offers a guide to organ donation for each state through organdonor.gov. I also encourage you to visit NYODN to read some of the personal stories from donors and recipients as well as learn about the incredible human connections created by organ donation. Donate life, New York. What better gift can there be?

Lee H. Perlman

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