Help will come too late for many of the 106,759 Americans awaiting donation on the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network waiting list.
April is National Donate Life Month, honoring those individuals and their families who have elected to donate organs, tissue, blood, and marrow in an effort to save or enhance the lives of others, and to encourage more people to follow their example.
We owe a special debt of gratitude to those selfless individuals and their families who have, even in their own sorrow, acted to ease someone else’s suffering and save lives.
A little over five years ago, my family suffered the loss of one of our own at age 52. Her forethought in filling out an organ donation card resulted in either saving or improving the lives of eight strangers. Nothing can ever make up for the tragic loss of a loved one, but through her death came renewed hope for other families.
As of April 5, 2010, there were 106,759 people waiting for an organ for transplant, and approximately 35,000 children and adults in our country have life-threatening blood diseases that could be treated by a marrow/blood stem cell or cord blood transplant. There is an urgent need for donors in the United States and for certain minority and ethnic groups in particular.
If you are already a donor please take the next step and become a donation advocate — help spread the word by:
- Telling family, friends, and neighbors.
- Post on your blog, website, and online social networking sites.
- Encouraging your workplace, associations, or other organizations to join the Workplace Partnership for Life.
Pondering our own mortality is not always easy or pleasant, but the fact is that we can help others even after we’ve gone. One organ or tissue donor can save many lives and registering is simple. A few things to keep in mind:
- Almost everyone is eligible to register for organ and/or tissue donation, with few exclusions (HIV positive, active cancer, systemic infection). Even if you’ve got a medical condition you can still register to be a donor — medical suitability is determined at the time of death. Age is generally not a factor in registering, but people under the age of 18 will need parental approval.
- Most states have donor registries or allow you to register when you renew your driver’s license.
- Until you get around to making it official, you can simply download and fill out an organ donor card. Be sure to carry it with you and inform family members of your wishes to avoid confusion and delay at time of death.
- All expenses related to organ donation are deferred to the recipient, so you will incur no charges by donating.
If you are considering becoming a donor, now is as good a time as any to take the next step and make it official. I’m an organ donor. Are you?
Organ Donor Information and Resources
- Information on organ donation: OrganDonor.gov
- Locate your information for your state: State Donor Registry
- Download free organ donation cards: Be a Donor
- Presidential Proclamation designating April as National Donate Life Month