April is National Donate Life Month — a time to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation. A majority of organ donations come from deceased donors, but in some cases, a living donor can be an option for people needing a life-saving transplant.
Janet Weinstein from Cape Coral told us in April of 2021 that she got a kidney from a donor who passed away.
"I was so shocked because the next stage was dialysis," she said. "I'm so grateful to my donor family and my donor. I went through a little grieving period for the family. Since I lost a husband, I knew what it was like.”
The waiting list for organ donations from people who have died varies based on demand, and the sickest patients get priority.
Fox 4 talked to a Port Charlotte man living without both kidneys in November of 2021.
“Having a kidney would substantially help how long I live. It will definitely increase any chance of seeing 60, 70 or older," Daniel Matteson said.
A living donor could help him make that happen.
“Living donor transplant is a method of doing a transplant where we use organs from a healthy, living person," Dr. David Kwon, a surgeon for Cleveland Clinic, said.
He said living donors can donate a kidney, liver lobe, a lung or part of a lung, part of the pancreas, and part of the intestine.
The United Network for Organ Sharing says more than 106,000 people need a life-saving organ transplant in the United States.
Dr. Kwon said given that need, living donors can make a big difference.
“Also, there is some data that more than half of the donors, in the long term follow up, they become psychologically healthier after they donate,” Dr. Kwon said.
He also said you don’t have to be related to the patient; strangers can donate to one another as well.
“I want to get a kidney so I can grow my future and move, build a house, have kids, you know, the whole American dream," Matteson said.
If you’re interested in becoming an organ donor, you can sign up through the state registry.