By Cindy Foster

Want to Become an Organ Donor? There’s an App for That . . .

Last year set a record year for organ donations at UNM Hospital. Now, a new phone app is making it even easier to become a donor in 2018.

"One organ donor can save as many as eight lives and heal many more through the gifts of tissue and eye donation," said Joanna Saczek, director of Transplant Services at UNMH.

"In 2017, 42 patients at UNM became organ donors, resulting in 134 organs transplanted and lives saved," said to Wayne Dunlap, executive director of New Mexico Donor Services.

To boost donor numbers even higher, UNMH and New Mexico Donor Services are working together to add 100 new names to the organ donor registry list by the end of April, National Donate Life Month - and they are hoping the availability of a new phone app will help make that goal a reality.

With only a few taps to the screen, Apple iPhone users now have the ability to go into their health apps and register as organ donors and provide the necessary information. Similar apps for Android phones are also in the works.

"We are used to handing out paper registrations at health fairs and having people sign up online, but the new app adds another level of convenience," Dunlap said.

More than 120,000 Americans, including 750 New Mexicans, are currently waiting for a lifesaving transplant, with a new individual added to the list every 10 minutes.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the need for transplantation spans all ages, with some 2,000 children under 18 on the list at given time. Yet only three in 1,000 people die in a way that allows for organ donation.

"By formally registering, you let your family and medical personnel know that you want to participate in this very worthwhile program," Saczek said.