April is National Donate Life Month, a month to inspire and encourage more people to register as organ, eye and tissue donors.
Many people associate being an organ donor with registering oneself on a deceased donor registry. Dan Hanson, Operating Engineer in the Facilities Department at CHI St. Alexius Health Dickinson, wants to remind others of the importance that living donations make for kidney and liver transplant candidates.
That's because, in 2001, Dan made the decision to donate one of his kidneys to a patient in need. The recipient of this living donation gift? His own mother.
Dan's mother was in need of a kidney transplant, and when Dan found out he was a match, he elected to make the donation. The successful transplant helped his mother enjoy an additional 13 years of life.
He reflects that the donation process went well for him, though it required extensive testing for him as the donor before the transplant took place at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Still, he is glad he made the decision and could give such an important gift to his mother 20 years ago.
On making the decision to donate a kidney, Dan shares, ‘You have to be willing to make a sacrifice. It really isn’t [a sacrifice], but you have to be prepared that it is. You don't ever want to do it expecting something in return. But if you want to simply help someone, that's what it's about.'
Dan was in a position to help a family member through donation, but many kidney transplants take place between unrelated individuals as well. According to LifeSource, 1 in 4 living donors are not biologically related to the recipient.
Special Note: If you are considering being a living donor, it’s important to note that living donation is not included in your deceased donor registration. Read more here!