CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - It is a fact, that by signing up to be an organ, eye and tissue donor, you can save lives.
"In 2016, 1,361 people in Ohio received an organ transplant with 606 of those patients receiving transplants in Northeast Ohio," said Lifebanc spokesman Nick VanDemark.
There are still so many -- 2,903 Ohioans right now -- on waiting lists for an organ. Kidneys are the most needed organ.
With the need so great, people are weighing their options when it comes to receiving an organ.
Believe it or not, there is a silver lining to the rampant opioid crisis in our area.
The latest numbers from Lifebanc indicate that 33 percent of organ donors in Northeast Ohio are now overdose victims.
That's up from just 7 percent only five years ago.
By the time the organs are evaluated, the drugs are no longer in the donor's system, but the organs could still be compromised because of unknowns like multiple blood transfusions.
But what are the risks associated with these organs? And what are the rights of recipients when it comes to this influx of donations? Get those answers in Cleveland 19 News Reporter Jen Picciano's story here.
"There are 116,000 people on the waiting list for an organ in the US. The majority of those people are in need of a kidney at 96,387," said VanDemark.
According to Lifebanc, 22 people die every day, sitting on a wait list, and an organ never becomes available.
Signing up to be a donor is easy and can be done in just a few minutes by clicking here.
State-wide research has shown an overwhelming number of people are for organ donation at 90 percent, but when it comes to actually signing-up there's only about 60 percent of the state who has.
"Making a decision about being an organ donor involves thinking about and discussing one's own death. That is scary and uncomfortable for most people," said VanDemark. "However, it is an extremely important decision that can save so many people in need."
The signing up to be a donor is the first step, speaking to family about your decision is the next step according to VanDemark.
"If people know the wishes of their loved one in advance it can reduce the burden they feel – at least in this one area. When you inform your loved ones of your wishes, you free them from having to make that decision for you in an incredibly emotional time."