Organ donation: You’re never too old
Published 10:27 am Friday, February 24, 2012
Dear Savvy Senior
Is there an age limit on being an organ donor? At age 73, I’m interested in being a donor when I die, but am wondering if they would still want my organs. What can you tell me, and what do I need to do to sign up?
~ Willing But Old
There’s no defined cutoff age for being an organ donor. In fact, there are many people well up into their 80s that donate. The decision to use your organs is based on health, not age, so don’t disqualify yourself prematurely. Let the doctors decide at your time of death whether your organs and tissues are suitable for transplantation.
In the United States alone, more than 112,000 people are on the waiting list for organ transplants. But because the demand is so much greater than the supply, those on the list routinely wait three to seven years for an organ, and more than 6,500 of them die each year.
Organs that can be donated include the kidneys (which are in the greatest demand with more than 90,000 on the waiting list), liver, lungs, heart, pancreas and intestines. Tissue is also needed to replace bone, tendons and ligaments. Corneas are needed to restore sight. Skin grafts help burn patients heal and often mean the difference between life and death. And heart valves repair cardiac defects and damage.