The gift of life - Albuquerque Journal

The gift of life

As you plan your giving for 2022, consider the act of doing so in special ways.

Give Blood

Blood is needed by women with complications during pregnancy and childbirth, children with severe anemia, accident victims, and surgical and cancer patients. There is a constant need for a regular supply of blood because it can be stored only for a limited time. Regular blood donation by enough healthy people is required to ensure that blood will always be available when and wherever it is needed. A decision to donate blood can save a life, or several if your blood is separated into red cells, platelets and plasma, which can be used individually for patients with specific conditions.

New Mexico and the US as a whole have a severe shortage of O-negative blood, with only a two-day supply available. Donations dip during the holidays, but blood on the shelves saves lives, and now is a wonderful time to donate.

To give blood in the greater Albuquerque area:

• Vitalant Blood Donation is at 1515 University Blvd NE and 2003 Southern Blvd SE No. 122, Rio Rancho. Vitalant also coordinates mobile blood drives with businesses and organizations. Blood donations can be scheduled online at https://www.vitalant.org/ or by calling (877) 25 VITAL for specific information. COVID-safe practices are followed. It takes only 30 minutes to give blood — about the same as an oil change, but with a far greater impact. According to Vitalant, the supply need will soon be critical.

According to the Health Resources & Services Administration, you can donate some organs and tissues while you are alive. Most living donations happen between family members or close friends. Other people choose to donate to someone they do not know. Nearly 6,000 living donations take place each year. That is about four of every 10 donations.

You may be able to donate:

One of your kidneys. A kidney is the most common donation, and your remaining kidney removes waste from the body.

One liver lobe. Cells in the remaining lobe grow or refresh until your liver is almost its original size. This happens in a short amount of time for both you and the receiving patient.

A lung or part of a lung, part of the pancreas, or part of the intestines. These organs do not regrow. Both the portion you donate and the portion that remains function fully.

Tissue. Skin after such surgeries as a tummy tuck, bone after knee and hip replacements, healthy cells from bone marrow and umbilical cord blood, amnion after childbirth and blood —white and red blood cells, and platelets.

New Mexico has two transplant centers. Presbyterian Hospital Transplant Center-Kidney and Pancreas Transplant is at https://www.phs.org/doctors-services/services-centers/transplant-services/Pages/default.aspx or by phone at (505) 923-5256 and University Hospital Transplant Services-Kidney Transplant Program is at https://unmhealth.org/services/kidney-care/transplant-services.html or by phone at (505) 272-3106.

After life

When you die, you can give an organ, or part of an organ, to someone in need, improving and saving lives. In November 2021, we learned of Xaven Garcia who acted heroically, making the final sacrifice to save his family from a fire, and donated his organs upon his death. Deceased organ donation is the process of giving an organ or part of an organ at the time of the donor’s death for the purpose of transplantation to another person.

According to New Mexico Donor Services, one donor can save up to eight lives through the gifts of lungs, liver, heart, kidneys, pancreas and intestines. Donors impact the lives of 50 or more people through the gift of tissue. For example, heart valves can be transplanted into children born with congenital heart defects. Skin tissue can be used to heal burn victims and help those who suffer from a disfiguring injury or disease. Corneal donation can restore sight to those whose vision is compromised. Over 60% of New Mexicans have registered to become donors, but more people are needed.

To register to be a donor online, go to https://registerme.org/. You can also become an organ donor the next time you renew your New Mexico driver’s license. Visit New Mexico Donor Services online at https://donatelifenm.org/ or call (505) 843-7672.

Donate body for education, research

According to the Cleveland Clinic, people have a variety of reasons for wanting to donate their body to medical science. Many do so because they value education. Others donate their bodies to medicine because they value the medical care they received personally. The human body is marvelous and, yes, mysterious. We may never learn everything there is to know about our bodies or how to treat every ailment that plagues us, but, by advancing medical science and through the selfless generosity of donors, knowledge grows.

You can donate your body to be delivered after death to the University of New Mexico School of Medicine for use in the advancement of medical science, education and research. The donation form is online at https://unmhealth.org/give/_files/anatomical-donations-form.pdf. If you are interested in this donation, discuss plans with your health care providers and your family.

SOURCES:

Blood donations:

www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/blood-products-why-should-i-donate-blood

Live organ donations:

https://www.organdonor.gov/learn/process/living-donation

NM Donation after life:

https://www.organdonor.gov/learn/process/donation-after-life

https://www.donatelife.

net/types-of-donation deceased-donation/

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