April is Organ and Tissue donation awareness month


Article by Blake Fogleman with Arkansas Journal

Posted on April 20, 2018

Little Rock, Arkansas–Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency (ARORA) was established in 1987 and serves 64 counties in the state.  The headquarters is located in Little Rock, with a satellite office in Fayetteville.  Their mission is to restore lives through the recovery of organs and tissues.  ARORAs work closely with hospitals and communities, providing education and training.

The organ transplant centers in Arkansas are Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Baptist Medical Center and University of Arkansas Medical Science.  Surgical centers and many hospitals throughout the state perform tissue transplants.

The director of ARORA, Alan Cochran, said one core purpose of the agency is to restore lives.  He believes that when you go to the DMV for your license and are asked if you want to be an organ and tissue donor, that the right answer is  “yes”.  If you have questions or need to think about it, you don’t have to register as organ and tissue donor right then.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t want to be an organ and  tissue donor.  In 2016, there were 213 organs transplanted and in 2107 there were 149 organ transplants , a decrease in the number even though the number of people requiring a transplant remains relatively the same.  One reason people may not register as an organ and tissue donor is because they lack information.  ARORA has a website www.arora.org where many frequently asked questions regarding organ and tissue donation is answered.  Cochran encourages anyone wanting to be a donor to share your decision with your family, even if you are registered.  Anyone with a state of Arkansas ID or a driver’s license can register to be a donor. If the person registering is  younger than eighteen parental consent must be obtained at time of donation.

Cochran hopes that organ donation is bigger than saving lives.  While working with donor families it is hoped that it will help in the grieving process.  Carly H, a donor mom, said that she feels that through the donation of tissues from her son, the memory of Matthew lives on.


There are several facts about organ, tissue and eye donation that ARORA  shares:

-People of all ages and medical histories are potential donors.  Your medical condition at the time of death will determine which organs and tissues  can be donated.

– Donated Tissue can be used to replace bone due to trauma, cancer and other diseases, donated tendons and ligaments are used to replace damaged tendons and ligaments in order to improve strength, mobility and independence.

-Corneas are needed to restore site.

-Skin grafts help burn patients heal and often mean the difference between life and death.

-Heart valves repair cardiac defects and damage.

-Organ, eye and tissue donation becomes an option only after all efforts have been made to save life.

-Donation should not delay or change funeral arrangements.  An open casket is possible after donation.

-There is no cost to the donor’s family or estate for donation.  The donor family pays only for the medical costs incurred prior to death and the costs associated with funeral arrangements.

-It is also possible to donate life as a living donor such as , donating  a kidney, or  partial liver, and  lung

-All major religions support organ, eye and tissue donation as an unselfish act of charity.


There are several myths about organ, tissue and eye donation that ARORA  answers:

Research shows that the main reason some people are reluctant to register as donors is that they simply don’t have accurate information. Unfortunately, myths about donation continue to circulate, resulting in a uniformed decision to not register as a donor. Below are some of the most common myths, along with the facts. Share them with your friends and family so that they can also learn the truth about organ donation.

Myth: If emergency room doctors know you’re an organ donor, they won’t work as hard to save you.
Fact: If you are sick or injured and admitted to the hospital, the number one priority is to save your life. Organ donation can only be considered after brain death has been declared by a physician. Also, your treating physician is not the doctor who would perform the organ recovery.

Myth: The “rich and famous” receive priority on the organ waiting list.
Fact: When you are on the transplant waiting list for a donor organ, what really counts is the severity of your illness, time spent waiting, blood type, and other important medical information.

Myth: Your family members can block your decision to become an organ or tissue donor, even if you are in the donor registry.
Fact: In Arkansas, your family cannot revoke your decision to register as a donor. However, it’s important to talk to your family about your decision to donate so they are aware of your wishes and will feel comfortable honoring them.

Myth: Only hearts, livers, and kidneys can be transplanted.
Fact: Needed organs include the heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver and intestines. Tissue that can be donated include the eyes, skin, bone, heart valves and tendons.

Myth: No one wants my organs; I have too many medical conditions.
Fact: At the time of death, the appropriate medical professionals will review your medical and social histories to determine whether or not you can be a donor. With recent advances in transplantation, many more people than ever before can be donors.

Myth: I’m too old to be a donor.
Fact: People of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential donors. Your medical condition at the time of death will determine what organs and tissue can be donated.

Myth: Organ donation is expensive.
Fact: There is no cost to the donor’s family or estate for organ and tissue donation. However, funeral costs remain the responsibility of the family.

Myth: Organ donation disfigures the body and it’s not possible to have an open-casket funeral.
Fact: Donated organs are removed surgically, in a routine operation similar to gallbladder or appendix removal. Donation does not change the appearance of the body for the funeral service.

Myth: My religion doesn’t allow organ donation.
Fact: All major organized religions approve of organ and tissue donation and consider it an act of charity.

Myth: I’m afraid of being drugged an having my organs removed.
Fact: This tale has been widely circulated over the Internet. There is absolutely no evidence of such activity ever occurring in the U.S. While the tale may sound credible, it has no basis in the reality of organ transplantation. Also it is illegal to buy or sell organs in the U.S.


It takes less than a minute to give someone in need a lifetime.  You can register to become a donor when you obtain/renew your driver’s license or by visiting   donatelifearkansas.org.

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