April is National Donate Life Month, a time to encourage people to register as organ donors and to celebrate those who have saved lives through the gift of donation. Everyone can register to be an organ donor regardless of gender, choice of sexual partner, gender identity or expression or HIV status. The HIV Organ Policy Equity Act (HOPE Act) allows HIV-positive individuals to donate their vital organs to HIV-positive patients waiting on the national transplant waiting list. To date, more than 160 HIV-positive organs have been donated and transplanted, including livers from deceased donors and kidneys from both living and deceased donors.
Across the United States, there are more than 112,000 patients on the waiting list who need a kidney, heart, lung(s), pancreas, liver, or intestine. Approximately 2,200 of those patients waiting for a lifesaving transplant live in the D.C. metropolitan area. Patients like Paul Johnson, who spends three days a week hooked up to a dialysis machine that keeps him alive. Paul is in desperate need of a kidney transplant, and he is not alone. Eighty-two percent of people who need an organ transplant are waiting for a kidney. Unfortunately, there is a critical shortage of kidneys because not enough people are registering to be organ donors, which means people are dying every day.
Washington Regional Transplant Community (WRTC) is the non-profit organ procurement organization in the D.C. metro area responsible for facilitating the donation process. Last year, WRTC recovered and allocated 485 lifesaving organs from 145 generous donors, saving the lives of 417 individuals.
In these challenging times, WRTC staff continue to recover and allocate organs from deceased donors who test negative for COVID-19. WRTC is working with hospital partners and transplant centers to ensure as many patients receive lifesaving transplants as possible during this unprecedented medical crisis. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has declared organ recovery as essential, and WRTC’s dedicated front-line staff are tenacious and committed to fulfilling our mission. WRTC will be observing National Donate Life Month online. Please join WRTC on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to help honor donors, recipients, and their families and caregivers.
Be part of the miracle. During National Donate Life Month, give people like Paul hope by registering to be an organ donor at BeADonor.org.