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February 9, 2009
By Laura Levin
Hearts are a traditional symbol of Valentine’s Day, but they also hold a special symbolic significance in health care as the red heart is the official logo for organ donation. This Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, celebrates National Organ Donor Awareness Day and encourages everyone to give the most precious gift they have to offer. The Nevada Organ and Tissue Donor Program is celebrating National Organ Donor Awareness Day by encouraging everyone to place the red heart on their driver’s license.
The Nevada Organ and Tissue Donor Program, a special program of the University of Nevada School of Medicine, has significantly increased the number of donor volunteers in Nevada by encouraging everyone to add the red heart to their license when they receive or renew their driver’s license.
“More than 90,000 people nationally are currently waiting for an organ or tissue transplant and every 14 minutes a new name will be added to the list,” said Trudy Larson, M.D., director of the Nevada Organ and Tissue Donor Program and a University of Nevada School of Medicine pediatrics professor. “National Organ Donor Awareness Day is a way for us to spotlight the issue and educate everyone about the importance of donation.”
National Organ Donor Awareness Day focuses on five points of life: organs, tissues, marrow, platelets and blood. By becoming an organ donor, an individual has the ability to make a difference and help save up to 50 lives.
Organs and tissues that are used to save lives include the heart, lung, kidneys and liver as well as eyes, skin and bones. There is no cost to the individual to become a donor and it will not impact the quality of the possibly life-saving medical care he or she may receive as organ and tissue recovery only occurs after every effort has been made to save the donor’s life. A national organ and tissue donation system makes certain that all patients receive donations fairly—race, gender, age, income and other factors are not considered when determining who receives transplants.
Celebrating National Organ Donor Awareness Day is just one of the initiatives Nevada’s Organ and Tissue Donor Program has employed to promote organ donation. In addition to annual statewide awareness campaigns, the program partnered with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) by posting signs encouraging organ and tissue donation in DMV offices throughout the state.
For more information about the Nevada Organ and Tissue Donation Program please visit giftoflife.nv.gov.