Donate Life

Every 10 minutes, another person joins the waiting list for an organ transplant. Here's how you can help.

Glen A Franklin, M.D. | Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates

Click here to learn about Sharon Cauthen’s journey as a kidney recipient.

Kathy Anderson’s heart was severely damaged by medicine she was prescribed while pregnant with twin girls. The damage wasn’t evident until after her daughters were born.

Within a couple of weeks, she was given only a slim chance of survival. Her doctors knew her only option was a heart transplant. This was 1987.

Sharon Cauthen

This April marks the 30-year anniversary of the surgery that saved Kathy’s life. In 2016, there were more than 33,600 organ transplants performed in the U.S.

One of those success stories was transplant patient Sharon Cauthen, of South Carolina, who spent seven months on a waiting list for a new kidney.

In June 2016, Sharon received the first-ever live organ transport flown on a UPS Browntail in the company’s 110-year history.

Yet 118,198 individuals still await the life-saving gift of an organ. A new person is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes. Countless others are in need of donated tissue grafts to improve their quality of life.

Unlike taking a number and waiting your turn for a transplant, available organs are matched with potential recipients based on factors that will contribute to the success of each transplant.

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Transplantation has saved and enhanced the lives of more than 500,000 people in the United States.

Some patients could wait years for the right organ to be available. Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates President & CEO Paul O’Flynn puts it matter-of-factly: “Organs donated for transplantation are the only thing in medicine that does not follow the supply and demand curve. We never have enough for those waiting.”

National Donate Life Month

National Donate Life Month is observed each year to bring much needed attention to healing lives through organ, tissue, cornea and living donation.

This year is particularly significant to Kathy’s family. In April of 1987, Kathy received her gift of life. She is blessed to have seen her twin daughters grow up – and now watches her five grandchildren grow and prosper. Kathy herself is growing and prospering 30 years since her heart transplant.

Kathy’s daughter, Kristin Dossett, wrote a letter to her donor family:

“Thank you for letting me experience life with the person who was there to take me to kindergarten, who put on my makeup for my first middle school dance, who taught me how to do laundry before I went to college, who watched me walk down the aisle.”

“Thank you for giving me Mom, who now gets to hold five grand babies. Thank you for giving them Nana. I’m so sorry for your loss, but in the midst of that horrible situation, you gave us an invaluable gift. I want you to know that his life and death were not in vain. I want you to know that he is one of our greatest blessings. I want you to know that his heart is still beating.”

As many families give and receive the gift of life, remember that 22 patients die waiting each day. Twenty-two people, including children like Hunter Cain from Graves County, Kentucky, lose their life because an organ wasn’t available in time.

It is vital that everyone registers as a donor. Being a registered donor gives hope. It’s a heroic effort that states your willingness to save a life. Transplantation has saved and enhanced the lives of more than 500,000 people in the United States.

Education and support

Together with 57 other organ procurement organizations, the Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates and the Kentucky Circuit Clerks’ Trust for Life are dedicated to providing education and registering Kentuckians as organ and tissue donors, while coordinating recoveries in the service area and providing ongoing support for donor families.

Right now, more than half of the Kentucky adult population and the majority of the U.S. adult population are registered organ, eye and tissue donors. Yet the number of people in need of transplants continues to outpace the number of organs donated.

Registering to become a donor is an effective and meaningful way to save lives and is a symbol of support to those on waiting lists. KODA and TFL coordinate an average of 105 donations annually with approximately 300 lives saved each year through transplant.

One-quarter of these life-saving organs are matched with awaiting recipients outside of our service area, requiring transportation support to honor our local donors’ gifts of donation.

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Registering to become a donor is an effective and meaningful way to save lives.

Since early 2015, KODA and transplant patients have benefited from the logistics expertise with our partners at UPS. Their assistance has allowed us to develop systems that ensure recipients have their organ – and a chance at life – when time and temperature control are mission critical.

The donation community continually searches for ways to safeguard each gift in transit, and KODA’s efficiencies certainly have increased through our partnership with UPS.

Its success stories like Sharon Cauthen, Kathy Anderson and others that make this work so meaningful and worthwhile. But there is so much more that needs to be done.

I’d like to encourage everyone to register to be an organ donor and help save lives. You can be a hero to all those on a waiting list. In Kentucky, go to donatelifeky.org, or outside of Kentucky, go to registerme.org to join the Donate Life America Registry. goldbrown2

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Glen A Franklin, M.D. is medical director at Kentucky Organ Donor Affiliates and participates with donor management and clinical operations throughout the organization’s service area. Franklin also is a professor of surgery and the vice chairman for education at the University of Louisville Department of Surgery.

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