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Organ Donation

Organ transplants have enabled numerous Massachusetts residents to live longer, have more time with their family and friends, and have a better quality of life. However, despite continuing advances in medical technology, the demand for organs is still vastly greater than the supply available for transplantation. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, one donor can save up to eight lives.

There are a number of ways to become a donor in Massachusetts. Here are just a few.

The Massachusetts Donor Registry

The form for a Massachusetts Class D, M, or D/M driver’s license or any identification card asks if the applicant would like to register as an organ/tissue donor. Those interested in donation should check the “Yes” box. Their new license/ID card will be issued with a heart symbol, signifying that the holder is considered an organ/tissue donor by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) and the Massachusetts Donor Registry.

The Massachusetts Donor Registry is a database of everyone who has signed up to be an organ and tissue donor. When a person whose organs are viable for donation dies, the database is checked for his or her name.

Residents who already have a Massachusetts license or ID can check or change their donation status online using the RMV’s Organ & Tissue Donor Enrollment tool.

The Organ Transplant Fund and the Organ and Tissue Donor Registration Fund

Another way to support donation in the Commonwealth is to contribute to one or both of two funds benefiting donation and transplants:

  • The Organ Transplant Fund helps residents pay for transplant-related costs not covered by their insurance. Medication to suppress the immune system so it accepts a donated organ can cost more than $10,000 a year. Massachusetts residents can donate to the fund either directly or on their state income tax returns.

Blood and Marrow Donation

Organ and tissue donations are not the only ways to contribute — blood and marrow donations are also needed. The American Red Cross states that approximately 41,000 blood donations are needed every day but less than 10 percent of eligible Americans donate. Donating blood takes about an hour “from registration to cookies” and one pint can save three lives, according to America’s Blood Centers. Check out donation centers in Massachusetts to give blood or get involved.

A bone marrow transplant is the most effective treatment for many people diagnosed with life-threatening diseases like lymphoma and leukemia. Unfortunately, Be The Match reports that about 70 percent of patients are unable to find a matching donor in their family. The organization aims to help those in need find the best donor available among its 10.5 million registrants. Register online to join the national database.

Organ, blood, marrow, and tissue donation can have a profound impact on many lives in the Commonwealth and across the country. Give hope to those who need or have had a transplant or transfusion by becoming a donor or contributing to the cause today.

For more information on organ and tissue donation in Massachusetts, tweet us @MassGov or comment below.

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