For most people, February is all about love, cartoon hearts and Valentine’s Day. For others, including countless hospital teams and organ donors, this month focuses on a different kind of heart, as people recognize American Heart Month and National Organ Donor Day (Feb.14). This celebrates the many doctors, patients, and donors that keep our hearts strong. For Air Unlimited, we like to do our part by offering organ transportation flights throughout the year, and today, we’d like to share how you can get involved too.
You may not realize it, but you can make a difference for the thousands of people waiting for lifesaving transplants. About 95 percent of U.S. adults support organ donation, but only 54 percent are actually signed up as donors. This is a disappointing gap when you take into account that one donor can contribute eight lifesaving organs, and there are nearly 120,000 people waiting for organ transplants.
So, what can you do? One simple step is to become an organ donor, which can easily be done online through your DMV. You can also volunteer with donation and transplant organizations, such as Donate Life America, and help organizations with social media advocacy and fundraising.
Something that many people forget is that organ donation isn’t just for the deceased. There are a few organs you can donate while you are alive that can make a huge difference, such as kidneys and parts of the liver, lungs, and pancreas. You can find information on the living donor process here. Even something as simple as donating blood or plasma can be a huge help too.
It may be American Heart Month, but Air Unlimited is honored to be part of the organ donation process throughout the year. Many of our pilots are ready to volunteer in transporting organs, welcoming the doctors along for the ride, no matter what hour of the day it is. We all can play a part in saving someone’s life, and that’s something to be proud of.
It’s the middle of the night, and Charles “Chick” Gregg’s phone is ringing. A fatal car accident took place earlier in the evening, and the driver (an organ donor) has a kidney that matches that of a patient in Tampa.
Chick, co-founder and principal of Air Unlimited, immediately begins making arrangements to find a pair of pilots that can fly the organ and medical team between hospitals. Sometimes our team will just be transporting the organ itself – usually packed in a cooler with ice. Other times, we’re flying a team of doctors to harvest an organ at another hospital and bring it back home for transplant.
Bit different than a private flight to the Bahamas, huh? This isn’t a standalone situation – organ transportation is part of the job description for many of our pilots. In fact, it’s a branch of our business that we are looking forward to continuing to grow.
Why is that?
Because it saves lives. More than 118,000 Americans are currently awaiting a lifesaving organ transplant, including 5,500 Floridians. Unfortunately, every 10 minutes, another person is added to the waiting list, and 21 people die every day while waiting for their turn. So, when a match is made, we know that every second counts.
Even though we’ll never meet these patients, we’re honored to have a part in saving a life, and want you to do the same! Just 54 percent of Americans are organ donors. To encourage more Floridians to sign up, Air Unlimited teamed up with Florida Hospital Transplant Institute to create a public service announcement about the little-known organ transportation process and the vital role that it plays in transplants.
By becoming an organ donor, you can single-handedly save and heal more than 75 lives. To learn more about the process or to sign up to be a donor, visit www.donatelife.net.