Organ Donors, Their Reasons for Donating

285233 1670 Large 150x150 Organ Donors, Their Reasons for DonatingAltruism or Obligation

Strangely enough, organs donors do not register to become donors because they were influenced by the staggering statistics of people dying a slow death or in the brink of death while waiting for matching organ donations.

A majority registered because they felt deeply that “it was the right thing to do.”

The inherent “rightness” that they felt was not based on a moral duty or obligation.  Rather, they believed that by donating their organs, it will consequently save many lives.  This is not a choice between right and wrong.  This is an altruistic act of providing hope and happiness to others.

How many can be saved or benefit from one donor?

One donor can provide the following living organs:

  • 2 kidneys
  • 1 liver
  • 1 pancreas
  • 1 heart
  • 1 set of lungs

In addition, “a donor can also give bone for limb replacement, bone for bone grafts, skin for grafts, tendons for grafts, fascia for grafts, 2 corneas.”  This means multiple recipients whose lives will be improved.

The potential is for a total of 50 recipients per donor.

Donating as quid pro quo

There are also a large percentage of organ donors that registered because their families, friends, or associates were recipients of donated organs.  They felt that it was now their turn to give back or return the gift of life that was granted to them.

This is a form of quid pro quo, a return of “a favor for a favor”.  Herein lies a feeling of moral duty and obligation.

Some Statistics on Organ Donation

In the USA, there are approximately 100 million registered donors.
On a yearly basis, there are more than 100,000 in the waiting list for organ donations.  However, there are only around 14,000 donations that resulted in 28,000 transplants.  Sadly, there are 7,000 deaths attributed to lack of available and compatible organs.

Since there are around 320 million Americans, the gap between supply and demand will be impossible to bridge within the country itself.

Research and development of fully functional bio-artificial organs are ongoing.  It will take many more years before they are approved for the use of the general public.

“Willful waste makes woeful want” (1576)

There are a small percentage of organ donors whose practical reason may be likened to the advocacy of “reduce, reuse, recycle”, the 3Rs of waste management and environmental protection. They believe that if their bodies will rot away upon death, then it is better to donate for reuse and recycle, and effectively reduce waste. It may come across as cold-blooded, but if you reflect on “waste not, want not” then it makes a lot sense to register as an organ donor.

Some Statistics on Expiration of Donated Organs

You have seen and read about the urgency of transporting and transplanting donated organs to recipients.  It will interest you to know on how long living organs and “non-living tissues” will last after being harvested from the donor.

  • Kidneys can survive from 48 to 72 hours.
  • Pancreas can survive 12 to 24 hours.
  • Liver survives up to 24 hours.
  • Heart survives 4 to 6 hours.
  • Lungs up to 4 to 6 hours.
  • Corneas survive 7 to 10 days.
  • Bone Marrow survives up to 3 years.
  • Skin and bones can last 5 years or more. Source

Organ Donation – A Legacy

A far smaller percentage of donors have thought of this final act in their lives as a legacy to be remembered by the recipients and their families.  They do not expect any quid pro quo.

“Giving is the most rewarding thing that you can do, and I want to continue giving as much as I can when I’m gone.”  Charles Parish, NC

“I don’t want to have a selfish death. I want to save as many lives possible. I have lived a life full of pain and sorrow. It’s time for somebody to live a long and happy life. Something I haven’t had. My family knows about my wishes and will be respected. Thank You.”  Sandra Olivares from El Paso, TX.


There is no doubt that registering as an organ donor will give meaning to your life.

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