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NHM Health Focus:
Organ Donation

April 2009

1823 Carl Bunger transplants skin from one part of a person to another

1906 - Edward Zim made first corneal transplant

1939 - Charles Drew developed procedure for the long-term preservation of blood plasma

1954 - First kidney transplant between identical twins done by Joseph Murray.

1967 - First heart transplant done by Christian Bernard.

1967 - First liver transplant done by Thomas Starzi

1972 - Uniform Donor card made legal in all states.

1984 National Organ Transplant Act established computer registry and outlaws sale of organs.

1996 - Tissue transplants performed in the United States reached 500,000.

2001 - For the first time, living organ donors out numbered deceased organ donors
Source: Decision Donation

Decision: Donation -- A School Program that Gives the Gift of Life from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. includes print, video, CD-Rom, and Web-based materials that teachers can integrate into existing curriculum and training programs. It is designed for use in a variety of classes, including driver education, English, health, math, biology, and social studies, e.g. a simulated blood test lesson for biology classes and an English lesson on how to write a persuasive donor awareness essay. The program includes a comprehensive overview of organ and tissue donation and a FAQ section about the process. It also examines the science of transplantation, the problems of matching donors and recipients, and takes a look at some of the religious views surrounding donation and transplantation.

An in-depth look at the world of organ and tissue donation donation in your choice of text, audio, or streaming video is available online from PBS

"Each day about 70 people receive an organ transplant, but another 16 people on the waiting list die because not enough organs are available. Talk to your family members about organ and tissue donation so they know your wishes. Even if you've signed something, your family may be asked to give consent before donation can occur." http://www.organdonor.gov

When it comes to organ donors and recipients, family, in the largest sense of the word, is important. Tissue traits are inherited, so a patient's most likely match is someone of the same heritage. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services is supporting research that will identify medical strategies and outreach efforts that will increase the number of organ and tissue donors of all ethnicities.

The National Health Museum salutes HHS for this contribution to the understanding of organ donation, its science and its societal implications. Related resources on our Access Excellence Web site include:

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