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Wednesday May 24, 11:44 am Eastern Time

SOURCE: National Transplant Society

National Transplant Society Launches First Independent Organ and Tissue Donor Registry

Online Registry Enables Equal Access for Organ Donations

CHICAGO, May 24 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Transplant Society (NTS) announces Sign Up For Life!, the nation's first permanent and continuous national organ and tissue donor registration drive, with the first-ever independent National Organ and Tissue Donor Registry as its centerpiece. The Registry is expected to save lives by dramatically increasing the number of viable organs available for transplantation. NTS will manage and maintain the National Organ and Tissue Donor Registry, which is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Hosted by UUNET, a WorldCom Company, the Website, www.organdonor.org, will allow Americans to register their organ donation intentions using secure technology. In turn, organ procurement professionals throughout the United States will be able to use the National Organ and Tissue Donor Registry to quickly ascertain if a potential donor has expressed his/her organ donation intentions.

NTS President Mike Reed, who received a life-saving liver transplant in 1995, says that formation of this Registry is a turning point for organ and tissue donation. ``This is the Peoples' Registry, unencumbered by the politics and bureaucracy often associated with organ awareness and procurement efforts. We have a simple goal-to focus only on increasing the availability of life- saving organs and tissue and protecting the public from the self interest, profit motivation and political bias that costs many people the a second chance at life and improved health through organ and tissue transplantation.''

Benefits of the Registry are numerous and far-reaching. Organ procurement professionals will be able to submit a single name to the Registry to determine whether that individual has expressed positive organ donor intentions. ``Confirming a donor's intentions is a key element because when families know of their loved one's intent to donate, family consent rates increase in excess of 50 percent,'' says Reed. In addition to registering organ donor intentions, the Website also will give users the chance to communicate their desires, by letter, to family members. Those without ready access to a computer will be able to register through an 800 number, or by mailing back a registration form. The National Organ and Tissue Donor Registry will augment existing local efforts such as Driver's License signature programs through the 24x7 online Registry and national database.

Creation of the National Organ and Tissue Donor Registry comes at a critical time. While medical breakthroughs and continued improvements in anti-rejection medications have enabled physicians to save many lives through transplantation, the rate of organ and tissue donation has not kept pace. Each year, almost 5,000 people in the United States die because only a small percentage of viable organs are donated. The statistics are grim. In the US, of the 2 million people who die each year, only about 14,000 are viable donors. Yet only 5,000 of these will actually become donors. That means 9,000 potential donors are lost. At an average of five lives saved per donor, that means that potentially 45,000 lives are needlessly sacrificed each year.

``We believe a more accessible system for registering donor intent will help narrow the gap between need and organ availability,'' says Reed. ``Establishment of the National Organ and Tissue Donor Registry is a bold move, but it is absolutely necessary in order to increase the number of available organs and tissue, thereby saving more lives.''

For further information, visit www.organdonor.org, or call the National Transplant Society at (312) 701-0700.

SOURCE: National Transplant Society