This guide is written by American Medical ID with input from the Living Donors Online community. Special thanks to the contributors to this guide, including Fr. Pat Sullivan, Sherri Bauman, and Julia Metzler.
Living organ donors are the inspiration of transplantation, leading to earlier transplants and better recipient survival rates1. In the US, nearly 6,000 living donations take place each year2.
However, a living organ donor may face possible long-term health risks. For example, a kidney donor can be at risk for hypertension, increased levels of protein in the urine, hernia, bloating in the abdominal area, nausea, and in more serious cases, impairment of the remaining kidney3.
Healthcare organizations around the world recommend medical IDs for people living with one or more medical conditions4, including those who have successfully completed a living organ donation. A medical ID is a piece of jewelry such as a bracelet or necklace that contains a person’s medical information.
Medical IDs can help raise awareness of living organ donation and help donors to live life fully with peace of mind.
“I'm a kidney donor who has a medical alert bracelet from the National Kidney Foundation. It is important that kidney donors wear one because some dyes used in scans can be hard for one kidney to filter out, and thus can damage or destroy the kidney.” – Fr. Pat Sullivan, Living Organ Donor
Living organ donations are usually a kidney or a portion of a liver. Occasionally, donation can also include a lobe of a lung5. No two donors are the same which is why a custom-engraved medical ID is vital. A medical alert bracelet or necklace for living organ donors can be customized to their unique medical information.
A living organ donor medical alert bracelet or necklace must contain the following:
A medical ID should at least contain the wearer’s first name. This helps provide responders a quick way to address the patient and check for their responsiveness.
2. Medical information pertaining to a living organ donation
TIP for organ donors: If you're unsure on what to engrave, consult your doctor or physician on the most urgent medical information to include on your medical ID.
3. Chronic medical conditions, food & drug allergies
If applicable, medical IDs should include other medical conditions that may cause a medical emergency. Food or drug allergies such as an allergy to nuts, penicillin, latex, etc. should also be engraved on a medical ID. This can be simply engraved as: “NO NUTS/LATEX” or “ALGY: NUT & PCN.”
TIP for organ donors: Living with multiple conditions or allergies? Choose a medical ID that can be engraved on the front & back with unlimited engraving. You may also use common abbreviations to make the most of the space allowed.
Medications that are taken regularly which may or may not be related to a living organ donation should be included, especially if they are crucial to the donor’s well-being or have known risks, side effects, and dangerous interactions.
5. In Case of Emergency (ICE) contact
Living organ donors should consider listing at least one emergency contact phone number. It is recommended to be an immediate family member or loved one but in some cases could also be their doctor.
| Rick Jones
| Joy Meachum
A medical ID is a simple tool that can help keep living organ donors safe and give them everyday peace of mind. People that decide to become a donor should understand the risk of not wearing one. Medical IDs have gone a long way from being unattractive or uncomfortable to wear. There’s also not the stigma with them that there once was. New styles of medical alert jewelry offer flexibility in design, comfort and durability that can suit different lifestyles.
Medical IDs can also help start positive conversations on living organ donation. For example, “how do I become a living donor?” is a frequently asked question. Medical IDs can help living donors share relevant information, concerns, and needs with their community.
If you are an organ recipient, custom engraved medical IDs might be a simple yet useful gift to consider for your living organ donor. Gift cards are the perfect solution when you are unsure about which medical ID to buy for someone or are uncertain about the engraving they will need. American Medical ID gift cards are available starting at $25.
Related community forum discussions:
1. Transplant Gifts - http://livingdonorsonline.org/ldosmf/index.php?topic=7204.0
2. Medical Alert Bracelets - http://livingdonorsonline.org/ldosmf/index.php?topic=5344.0