“Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.”
— Maya Angelou
Every 10 minutes, a new name is added to the waiting list for an organ transplant. Nearly 115,000 names are on that list. Those names might be faces that are familiar to you or be complete strangers.
But as an organ donor, you have the ability to save eight of them. Just you. Eight lives.
April is National Donate Life Month. If you’re not already a registered organ donor, consider changing that status today. It is understandable that you might hesitate — it causes you to think about your own mortality. But these people in need see that reality every day.
All month long, television station WFMZ 69 has been highlighting local families affected by organ donation. These are powerful messages that show the importance of being an organ donor.
An 18-year-old girl who had spent her young life doing good deeds for others, including donating her long hair to have wigs made for children with cancer, died suddenly in February. Her organs were donated.
A 23-year-old young man who had a new job, new wife and a new baby died of a cerebral hemorrhage. There were no signs. He just didn’t wake up one morning. As an organ donor, he gave six people new lives.
A mother/grandmother recalled getting some bad news that an autoimmune disease was shutting down her liver. After being placed on the waiting list, she was contacted about a transplant. Sadly, an 18-year-old boy had died in a car accident. He was a registered organ donor — and he saved her life.
The number of people on the waiting list continues to grow with news of continuing transplant success stories and advances in medicine. But the number of donors has not grown as quickly.
In Pennsylvania, you can register as an organ donor through the Department of Motor Vehicles. You can make the designation the next time you renew your driver’s license, or you can visit the Gift of Life Donor Program website, donors1.org, which will guide you through the process. It takes just 30 seconds.
The Gift of Life Donor Program has coordinated more than 40,000 organ transplants in the past 44 years. The website has a comprehensive Q&A, which dispels many misconceptions about organ donation.
For example, if you are an organ donor, doctors, nurses and other emergency personnel will always do everything possible to save your life. Every lifesaving effort will be made before the Gift of Life Donor Program is notified.
There is no cost to you to register as a donor. There is also no cost to your family or your estate.
Your organs will not be bought or sold on the black market.
You can specify the organs you wish to donate.
Your religion likely approves of organ donation.
And you are most definitely not too old.
During one of the WFMZ features, a mother who had lost her son, but had witnessed new life through his organ donation, said, “I’ve seen what a miracle is. One family’s tears of sadness are another family’s tears of joy.”
Organ donation is truly the gift that keeps on giving. A bumper sticker spotted recently might just say it most succinctly: Don’t take your organs to Heaven. Heaven knows we need them here.