Organ Donation: There's An App For That - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on July 07, 2016

Organ Donation: There's An App For That

Media Contact:
Katrina Stier
(610) 447-6314
Katrina.Stier@crozer.org

Practice Contact:
Crozer-Keystone Regional
Kidney Transplant Center
(610) 619-8420

The new iPhone will include the option to enroll in the National Donor Registry by tapping a button in the phone's Health app.

The new iPhone will include the option to
enroll in the National Donor Registry by
tapping a button in the phone's Health app.

Right now, there are more than 121,000 people in the United States on the waiting list for a lifesaving organ transplant. A new name gets added to that list every 12 minutes. And, according to the American Transplant Foundation, 21 people die every day while waiting for a transplant.

That’s tragic. But there’s something you can do about it: Sign up to be an organ donor. Registering as an organ donor means that, when you die, your organs can potentially be used to save someone else’s life. By donating your organs, you can save or improve as many as 50 lives.

While it isn’t necessarily difficult to register as an organ donor, a lot of people still have not done it. In Pennsylvania, signing up to be an organ donor is relatively easy. When you get your driver’s license, it’s simply a matter of checking a box to register. Or, you can go online to the National Organ Donor Registry and sign up there.

Now, Apple is looking to make it even easier. The company has announced that when the new iPhone operating system is updated this fall, it will include the option to enroll in the National Donor Registry by tapping a button in the iPhone’s Health app, which a lot of people use to manage their health and fitness data.

Cosme Manzarbeitia, M.D., director of Transplant Surgery for Crozer-Keystone Health System, is all for anything that creates greater awareness of the need for more organ donors.

“Anything that increases organ donation awareness is good,” says Dr. Manzarbeitia.

However, Dr. Manzarbeitia adds that we shouldn’t consider this news to have solved the challenge of increasing organ donation. “Unless there is a specific prompt when people sign up for the new operating system, unless they delve into the depths of the app, they may not see it,” says Dr. Manzarbeitia.

The federal government has been making a push to increase the number of people registered as organ donors, and also to create greater efficiency in the system to connect donors with patients in need of transplants.

Dr. Manzarbeitia encourages people to become donors. He says the persistent myth that doctors won’t save your life because someone else needs your organs is simply untrue. There are safeguards in place.

“There cannot be any conflict of interest. Doctors that [perform] transplant operations do not get involved in the donation process. We don’t have any connection to the donor or the donor’s family. Everything has been done by the organ procurement organization.”

Just about anyone, at any age, can become an organ donor. If you’re under the age of 18, you need to have the consent of your parent or guardian. And you can never be too old to donate your organs. If you’re uncertain whether you’re healthy enough to donate your organs, don’t automatically think you’re disqualified. While it’s true that certain conditions such as HIV or actively spreading cancer could prevent you from becoming an organ donor, it still makes sense to have a conversation with a medical professional about your viability as an organ donor.

It's especially important to consider becoming an organ donor if you belong to an ethnic minority. Some minority ethnicities are more likely than whites to have certain chronic conditions that affect the kidneys, heart, lung, pancreas and liver. Additionally, certain blood types are more prevalent in minority populations, and matching blood type is usually necessary before an organ can be transplanted.

How to Become an Organ Donor

Organ and tissue donation and transplantation provide a second chance at life for thousands of people each year. You have the opportunity to be one of the individuals who make these miracles happen.

By deciding to be a donor, you give the gift of hope ... hope for the thousands of individuals awaiting organ transplants and hope for the millions of individuals whose lives could be enhanced through tissue transplants.

Learn more at donatelifepa.org.

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