1. Be an organ donor.

For the 2,000 Wisconsin residents who are on the waiting list for a life-saving organ transplant, their biggest barrier is organ availability. One organ donor can save up to eight lives, and the same donor can improve the lives of up to 75 people by donating tissue and eyes.

Organ donation is only considered after the medical team has exhausted all efforts to save a patient’s life. Only after death has been confirmed can organ donation become a possibility. The patient’s family members are involved in the process and must provide consent. The organ procurement organization, a non-profit organization, is responsible for the evaluation and procurement of deceased-donor organs for organ transplantation.

To become an organ or tissue donor, register online through Donate Life Wisconsin. You can also register at the DMV when completing your driver’s license or state ID application.  More information and application forms can be found on the Wisconsin.Gov website.

2. Be a live donor.

The kidney and a portion of the liver can be donated by living donors. The process is known as live donation and directly alleviates the critical need for organs.

We are born with two kidneys, but our bodies can function normally with one. You can donate one of your kidneys to someone, and the remaining kidney will adequately remove waste in the body. This enables one person to donate a kidney to another.

Your liver will regenerate, so you can donate a portion of your healthy liver to save another person. After transplantation, the partial livers of both the donor and recipient will grow and remodel to form complete organs.

If you wish to be considered as a live donor, you can register through our Live Donor Transplantation Program.

3. Donate blood.

An adequate supply of blood in a hospital is critical. The American Red Cross estimates one in seven patients coming to a hospital for treatment will need blood. Blood is particularly important for trauma patients — one car accident victim could need up to 100 units of blood.

Trauma accounts for approximately 41 million emergency department visits and 2.3 million hospital admissions in the U.S. each year, according to the National Trauma Institute. Type O-negative blood is particularly important to have on hand immediately as it can be transfused into people of all blood types. Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin is the exclusive provider of blood to 56 Wisconsin hospitals.

4. Learn to Stop the Bleed.

The most preventable cause of death for trauma patients is bleeding out. The national Stop the Bleed® campaign was created to educate people about how to control bleeding before first responders arrive. This method can be useful in everyday emergencies such as a kitchen mishap, mass casualty situations, or intentional violence incidents

Learn the ABCs of Stop the Bleed:

  • A is for Alert: Ensure you’re safe, then call 911.
  • B is for Bleeding: Find the source of the bleed.
  • C is for Compression: Apply pressure, apply a medical tourniquet or pack the wound and apply pressure.

5. Learn hands-only CPR.

The American Heart Association says almost 90 percent of people who suffer a heart attack outside of a hospital die, but if CPR is performed immediately, a person’s chances of survival can double or triple. If you are not trained to perform CPR, you may be hesitant to help someone when they’re having a heart attack. While the American Heart Association encourages everyone to learn conventional CPR, hands-only CPR is a natural introduction to CPR that anyone can learn. Hands-only CPR is an effective method without mouth-to-mouth breaths.

  1. Call 911
  2. Immediately begin chest compressions, pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute. Use the beat of a familiar song like “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees to help you stay in rhythm.
About the Author

Christopher Davis, MD, MPH is a trauma and acute care surgeon at Froedtert Hospital. The Froedtert & MCW Trauma Center is the only adult Level I Trauma Center in eastern Wisconsin.

Joohyun Kim, MD, PhD, transplant surgeon and blog author
About the Author

Joohyun Kim, MD, PhD, is a transplant surgeon at Froedtert Hospital. He is an associate professor and the surgical director for the kidney and liver transplant programs.