5 Quick Facts About Organ Donation


There are far more people in need of a transplant than there are people willing to donate an organ. According to Donate Life America, while 95 percent of U.S. adults support organ donation, only 54 percent are actual registered donors.

“The fact of the matter is, we need more organ donors,” says Kim Olthoff, MD, chief of the division of Transplant Surgery. “If more people designate donation on their driver’s licenses, or if more people talk about the decision to be an organ donor with their families and loved ones, or if more people decided to selflessly participate in living donation, we would be able to save some many more lives with through transplantation.”

“Understanding the challenges our patients face during these difficult times, the Penn transplant team has worked diligently to implement and utilize all the resources available to coordinate patient care during all the phases of transplant, incorporating testing technologies and telemedicine tools to minimize the exposure risks,” explains Christian Bermudez, MD, Surgical Director, Lung Transplantation and ECMO.

Below are five answers to frequently asked questions about organ donation that shed some light on why it's so important to register to be a donor and to encourage others.

Q&A about Organ Donation

Below are five answers to frequently asked questions about organ donation that shed some light on why it's so important to register to be a donor and to encourage others.

How many lives can one organ donor save?

One deceased organ donor can save up to eight lives! Two people can be freed from dialysis treatments with the donation of two kidneys. A donated liver can be split so that two people receive the gift. In addition, two lungs can give the gift of life to two people and the pancreas and heart can also be donated.

Organ donation icons

When you add it all up: 1 = 8!

Is tissue donation important?

Yes! One tissue donor  someone who can donate donate bone, tendons, cartilage, connective tissue, skin, corneas, sclera, heart valves and vessels  can impact the lives of as many as 75 people. 

Is it common for a person to be able to be an organ donor?

Organ donation is a very rare and special opportunity. Not many people know that approximately two percent of people who pass away will die in a way that allows for organ donation to be a possibility. That’s why adding the donor designation to your driver’s license is so important. 

How many people are currently waiting for life saving transplants at the Penn Transplant Institute?

Nationally, there are more than 120,000 people awaiting transplantation. If it’s hard to imagine what 120,000 people look like, picture a football stadium, completely filled with people and about 20,000 waiting outside. 

Every day, in the United States, 18 people a day die waiting for an organ to become available.

How many people have benefited from the generosity of organ donors at the Penn Transplant Institute?

Since the Penn Transplant Institute’s first transplant in 1966, thanks to the generosity of donor families and living donors, more than 10,000 people have benefited from organ donation at Penn. 

During Donate Life Month each April, we honor all the donors and their families for their life-saving generosity and compassion.

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The Penn Medicine Transplant blog features short postings with news about the transplant program at Penn Medicine, notices about upcoming events and health information. Subscribe to the blog and stay connected with Penn's Transplant Program!

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