A few significant facts about organ donation: 

• Every 14 minutes, a new name is added to the transplant waiting list.

• Every day, 17 Americans will die because organs were not donated in time to save their lives.

• One donor can save or enhance the quality of life for up to 50 people.

• Tissues such as corneas, bone, skin and heart valves can be donated up to 24 hours after death occurs.

• Organs can survive for only a limited time outside the body. Hearts and lungs must be transplanted within four hours. All other organs must be transplanted within 24 hours.

• Transplantation is the only life-saving cure for end-stage organ failure. About 90% of all transplant recipients regain their health completely, and can return to work or school, marry and even have children.

• Organ transplantation was first performed in the 1950's. (2004 was the 50th anniversary of the kidney transplant between identical twins Ronald and Richard Herrick in 1954.) New technologies and drugs have resulted in the increased success or heart, liver, kidney and lung transplants as well as pancreas and small intestine.

Source: The Center for Donation and Transplant, Albany, New York.