ALTOONA, Iowa — The Iowa Donor Network is celebrating a significant milestone. Last year, the number of registered organ and tissue donors reached 73-percent. That’s a record for the state and more than 20-percent above the national average. Now the organization is looking to keep the momentum going. However, it knows the decision to help give others life isn’t always easy for some.
“I think a lot of people think, ‘oh I’ll let someone else be the donor, someone else can do it,'” says Heather Butterfield, a spokesperson for the Iowa Donor Network. “The reality is we need everyone signing up on the registry because there is such a need right now.”
In 2018, the Iowa Donor Network recorded 74 organ donors gave 248 organs for a transplant, the most ever in state history. Despite the success, the gap between the number of Iowans on the state’s organ transplant waiting list and the number of organs available is large. Right now, about 600 Iowans on awaiting a transplant and are waiting on average of three to fives years before receiving a transplant, that’s even if they get one at all.
The Iowa Donor Network is aiming to increase the number of registered donors by educating the public on separating fact from fiction when it comes to organ donation and how it works. Butterfield says that involves breaking down the misconceptions of donations.
“The oldest donor we`ve had was 105- years- old and was a tissue donor,” she says. “Even for organ donors. One in three organ donors are over the age of 50. So, never rule yourself out because of age or medical history,” she says.
Butterfield says age is not necessarily a factor when it comes to saving lives. Her 20-year-old sister died unexpectedly in 2012 and was able give the gift of life of dozens others. She’s now committing herself to honoring her sister by sharing why becoming a registered donor matters.
“When I go out and talk to the public, I always encourage them to just think about if you or someone in your life was told you need a transplant or you are going to die. You would hope that someone would give to them.”
For more information on how you can register to become a donor click here.