Important Info for Older Adults about Organ Donation

As some of you may know, I just got my brand new “Donate Life” license plate–just in time for National Organ Donation Day, February 14. The plate reads: GV1KP1 (Give 1, Keep 1)–referring to my kidney donation this past May. I am pretty excited to have it on my car, as I hope it will encourage others to consider organ donation.

Those of you read my previous posts know that I was quite surprised that I was able to donate my kidney in the first place; this was because of my past and current medical history. Although I am in good shape, keep myself physically fit, and in a healthy weight range, I am by no means in perfect health. I was also approaching 58 years of age; the surgery took place the day after my birthday. If I am being honest, I was fairly certain that I would not qualify and was somewhat shocked when I did.

When people think organ donation, I believe they mostly consider organs donated when someone has died; this gets a fair amount of press–and rightly so–when something positive is able to come from something tragic. This is certainly a source for many of the organ donations that take place, but it is preferable to have a living donor for certain procedures; obviously, heart donations cannot come from a living donor (or at least one that will survive the operation!). For kidneys and livers, it is preferable to have the tissue come from a living donor.

Is there an age at which one is too old for a transplant? For recipients, the question is a complicated one. Age is a number and there are some 80-year-olds who could not tolerate such major surgery, whereas others might come through it with flying colors. Each hospital system’s transplant program has its own guidelines. When it comes to donating an organ, many of the same factors are taken into account. There are some people into their 70s and even 80s who have been qualified to donate–and the recipients have benefitted from their lifesaving gift.

As I wrote in another blog post, never assume that you cannot make a difference. Do not automatically believe that you are not going to qualify to do something that will save another person’s life or dramatically increase its quality. Age is just a number. The better we take care of ourselves, the more likely we are to live life to the fullest and be able to give to others in meaningful ways.

Interested in learning more about organ donation? Visit

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