American Family Children's Hospital
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Never too Old to be a Hero

Ripple Effect

Summer 2014 Issue

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It does not matter how old you are — you can still give the gift of life through organ, tissue and eye donation. However, the number of people who register to be donors drops off significantly after age 50.

 

UW Organ and Tissue Donation (UW OTD) hopes to change that with targeted presentations to older audiences.

Trey Schwab, community outreach coordinator at UW OTD, recently spoke to eight different community groups for people of ages 50+ in the Eau Claire area about why they should register as donors.

 

"Many of the people were surprised they could still be donors," he says. "I think it was the first time they had heard that message. Some had stopped registering to be donors because they smoked or had issues in their past medical history and they thought that would disqualify them."

 

While older people are rarely able to donate their heart or lungs, they can often donate their kidneys — and 80 percent of the patients on the waiting list are waiting for kidneys. Another commonly donated organ among older patients is the liver.

 

UW Hospital and Clinics has had donors who are in their 80s, and other facilities across the nation have had donors well into their 90s. "Don't rule yourself out — let the doctors and other medical professionals make the decision about whether you can be an organ donor," says Trey.

 

After Trey's presentations, many listeners said afterward they plan on registering to be organ donors. "One of those people we reached could wind up saving someone's life," says Trey. "That makes it worth the effort."