April is National Donate Life Month and there are plenty of ways to support this very important cause. More than 120,000 people in the U.S. are awaiting organ, eye, or tissue donation. Donating is an easy way to give others a better chance at a healthier life.
Why donation is so critical
The need for organ, eye, and tissue donations far exceeds the number of people needing donors.
- Every 10 minutes another name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list.
- In addition to organ transplants, more than one million tissue transplants are done each year and the surgical need for tissue has been steadily rising.
- Donate Life reports that 90% of Americans say they support donation, but only 30% know the essential steps to take to be a donor.
- OrganDonor.gov states, "Each day, about 79 people receive organ transplants. However, 18 people die each day waiting for transplants that can't take place because of the shortage of donated organs."
One young man helped save or improve 69 lives
Chuck and Cindy Harris never thought they would lose their son at such a young age, but organ and tissue donation was the last selfless act of Paul Harris. Visit this link to learn how the decision made by a courageous young man and his family saved the lives or improved the health of 69 people.
House Resolution Number 133 recognizes Paul's donation of life to others, and his parents' hard work to promote organ/eye/tissue donation. In part the resolution reads, "...the Clerk of the House of Delegates prepare a copy of this resolution for presentation to Chuck and Cindy Harris as an expression of the General Assembly’s appreciation for their son, Paul, and his gift of life and the Harris’ continued work in his memory."
Making a decision to donate
Making the decision to donate can be difficult for individuals and their families mainly due to lack of information. Donating organs and tissue is a very personal decision, but it is a decision that can mean life or death for another person or many people. People often don't like to think about what happens after their death, but it's important to consider the options and make a decision while you are still healthy and able.
The Mayo Clinic provides answers to some questions asked by people who are considering organ donation:
- The clinical staff WILL work as hard as possible to save your life if you are ill, even if you are an organ donor. It will not alter your healthcare treatment or rights.
- Children under the age of 18 are too young to make a decision for donation, but their parents can authorize the decision in the event of an untimely death. There are many children on transplant lists and donation can give them another chance at life.
- There is no cut-off age for donation. No one is too old and donors only need to meet specific medical criteria. Make the decision to donate and then the clinical professionals can determine if your organs and tissue are appropriate for transplant after your death.
- Even though you may have some medical issues, that does not make you unsuitable as a donor. Only medical professionals can make that determination after your death, but if you are not a donor the opportunity to save lives is over.
- The donor's family is never charged for donating. All costs related to organ removal and donation go to the transplant recipient.
Register to donate
Learn more about organ donation during National Donation Month.
- Register with your state's donor registry by visiting OrganDonor.gov.
- It's easy to designate your donation decision on your driver's license when you obtain or renew a license.
- You can also obtain a donor card from the OrganDonor.gov website.
Don't wait until it's too late to make a decision to donate. Make sure your family knows your wishes and document your choice to donate by registering on the website.
Celebrate National Blue and Green Day on April 11
April 11, 2014 is National Blue and Green Day. During this day, the public is encouraged to wear blue and green, hold events and fundraisers, and partner with local restaurants, malls, media, and community organizations in an effort to spread awareness about organ, eye and tissue donation and transplantation.
Learn more about organ/eye/tissue donation and make a difference.