Greg McFarlane, Kidney Recipient. Credit: LifeSource

When Ipso Facto drummer Greg McFarlane went to the hospital to be treated for a broken toe, additional testing revealed his kidneys were failing. “The next step was to wrap my head around the fact that I’ve just been taken from the ‘normal people’ to the ‘sick people,’” explains Greg. 

Greg remembers watching his brother Wain receive a donated kidney from his generous niece Yai Tieh in 2008, saving Wain’s life. Just five years later, Greg found himself following in his brother’s footsteps when he, too, was diagnosed with kidney disease. Exactly eight years following his brother’s kidney transplant, Greg also received the gift of a kidney on his birthday.

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Organ donation is a gift that saves and heals thousands of lives each year, yet there are still many more people waiting for a transplant than there are organs available. In fact, a name is added to the waiting list every 9 minutes – a list that holds the names of more than 100,000 people.

Nationally, 68% of people waiting for a transplant are men. More men are listed for every organ,  and three times as many men than women are waiting for a heart transplant. Yet men are less likely than women to register as organ donors. And while living donation is an opportunity for friends and family to step up for one another, registering to be a donor is the best way to ensure that more people receive the transplants they need.

While it’s not clear what’s behind the gender gap in organ donation, men often cite needing additional information to make a decision.There are many myths and misconceptions about donor registration; steer clear of misinformation and get the facts about choosing to be an organ donor.  

Here are answers to common questions about registering as a donor:

What does it mean to register as a donor? 

Registering as an organ donor is a legal decision that means you agree to donate your organs, eyes and tissues to help others after your death. It’s a decision that will be honored if you have the opportunity to be a donor, so it’s important to talk with your family about your choice.

What can be donated?

One donor can save and heal more than 75 lives. Did you know all of the following can be donated?

Organs: Heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, and intestines.

Tissue: Skin, veins, tendons, bone, heart valves and connective tissue.

Eyes: Whole eye or cornea.

Does my age or health prevent me from becoming a donor?

Your age or health does not prevent you from registering. Most health conditions do not prevent donation and age is not a factor. Medical advances now allow people with many chronic conditions to donate. Don’t rule yourself out – register!

Is my life the priority?

Yes. If you are taken to the hospital after an accident or injury, it’s the hospital’s number one priority to save YOUR life. Your status as a donor is not even considered until every effort has been made to try to save your life. 

How can I register to be a donor?

There are four ways to register as a donor in Minnesota:

More registered donors means a better chance at getting an organ for everyone. That includes people like the McFarlane brothers whose family celebrations are extra special thanks to the gift of organ donation.  Beyond registering to be a donor, Greg challenges everyone to consider this:  

“What if it became a conversation – an everyday conversation – about organ donation? That it’s just a yes or a no. Are you willing? Why not? Whatever your decision is, we will respect it, but let’s at least have a conversation about it.”

Looking for more information? Check out our frequently asked questions about organ, eye and tissue donation.

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