Sunday, January 13, 2008

Giving another chance at life

Thanks to a cornea transplant, Jason was able to see again for the first time in 31 years; at the age of 39, a kidney transplant saved David’s life; for Richard, a bone transplant meant the chance to live a normal life again; and when Darcy’s son gets older, she’ll tell him about the transplant that saved her life. All of these are examples of people who received organ donations.

In my book one of the stories I wrote about is the death of two children in the same family from a car accident and the donation of the organs of the daughter to help others live. “She was such a loving child, we were certain she would want her organs donated to help others,” said her parents. They believe that one or two children may be alive today because of their donation, and they feel good about that. Although always a difficult decision, it was the right choice for them; others have a right to feel differently. The information I provide here is for those who, by their wills, on their driver’s licenses, or though conversations with loved ones, choose to make that same life-altering decision.

A few facts: over 79,000 U.S. patients are currently waiting for an organ transplant; nearly 3,000 new patients are added to the waiting list each month. Every day 16 to 17 people die while waiting for a transplant of a vital organ such as a heart, liver, kidney, pancreas, lung or healthy bone marrow. And nearly 10 percent of the patients currently waiting for liver transplants are young people under 18 years of age.

Organ, eye and tissue transplants offer patients a new chance at healthy, productive, normal lives. Acceptable organ donors can range in age from newborn to 65 years or more.

The organization, Donate Life America, founded in 1992, is a not-for-profit alliance of national organizations and local coalitions across the U.S. dedicated to inspiring all people to save and enhance lives through their donations. They publish brochures, program kits and other materials, and provide technical assistance and referral services. Contact this group or make your wishes known to a hospital, your health care provider or a lawyer.

A study a few years ago showed that while 91% of adults support the idea of organ donation, only one in three is aware of the proper steps for committing to become a donor, as procedures differ from state to state.

I encourage you to look into this for someone close to you who has died or even to change someone’s world by being a donor yourself. It’s the ultimate charitable act. It’s about living. It’s about life.

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