LifeSharers helps organ donors get priority for organ transplants

Christine Bogee
Christine Bogee
Robert Brewer
Robert Brewer

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Hundreds of Hawaii patients are waiting for organs.  Some will wait years to make it to the top of the transplant list. But one organization promises to move you to the top of their list, but to receive, you must be willing to give.

Waiting for an organ can be an agonizingly long wait. For some 9 or 10 years, even as their bodies fail, but there are no other options.

"There is a great need for organ donation here in Hawaii. There are 373 people waiting for organ donation," said Christine Bogee, with the Organ Donor Center of Hawaii.

The sicker you are, the quicker you move up the list. But even then, it doesn't mean you'll get a transplant.  On average every month in the islands, one person dies waiting for an organ.

Robert Brewer does a lot of research for his college computer classes, but he also checked out the numbers of those in need of organs. And signed up to be a donor.

While on-line he also ran across a non-profit organization called LifeSharers that encourages people to donate, by directing organs 'first' to those who are willing to donate their own organs when they die.

Already over 12,000 people across the country have signed up, just like Robert has.

"This is a fairness issue, half of the people who receive organs aren't even donors. They're willing to receive organs but not share their organs with others,"said Brewer.

There are plenty of transplantable kidneys, hearts and livers, just not enough people saying yes to organ donation.

"Last year 43 percent of families approached for donation said no and the organs were buried with those loved ones. But they could have given hope to those on the transplant list," said Bogee.

While a donor can direct where an organ can go, the Organ Donor Center of Hawaii feels the current transplant system is fair. The sickest patient gets the organs first.

There will be a new registry drive this spring, to help expand the list of those willing to give the gift of life.