Organ donation: You can improve more people’s lives than ever

April is National Donate Life Month, and having that little heart on your driver’s license as an organ donor means you can benefit potential recipients in more ways than ever before.

We may think of donating organs such as kidneys, lungs, and intestines, but “Thanks to modern science, we’re moving into the realm of transplanting of hands and face and arms and limbs,” said Frank Holloman, director of the Division of Transplantation at the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Health Systems Bureau.

“So each organ donor can save up to eight lives and enhance up to 75 other lives,” he said.

No one is too old or too sick to be an organ, eye and tissue donor.

Frank Holloman is Director of the Division of Transplantation at Health Resources and Services Administration’s Health Systems Bureau. (Courtesy HRSA)

“Don’t rule yourself out,” Holloman said. “Allow the experts in the field at the appropriate time to make that decision whether your organs can be used for an organ transplantation.”

Every 84 minutes, someone dies waiting for an organ transplant. More than 106,000 Americans are waiting for organs that can save or enhance their lives, and every nine-minutes a new person is added to waiting lists, according to

“There are children, unfortunately, on our list — approximately 2,000 children who are waiting for an organ transplant,” Holloman said. “About 500 of those are between the ages of 1 and 5.”

Whether you sign up online or it’s already on your driver’s license, it’s important family and friends know your intentions, “so when that time comes, they honor your wishes to become an organ tissue donor,” he said.

National Pediatric Transplant Week begins the week of April 24. Holloman said it’s an effort to aggressively and proactively try to help the 2000 children who are waiting on an organ.

You can get frequently asked questions answered and sign up to become a donor on the Health Resources and Services Administration’s website.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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