Give the greatest gift: Be an organ donor

March 1, 2017

iStock-500536705 (1).jpgIf you could save a life, would you? Or better yet, several lives?

That's something you can easily do by signing up to become an organ donor. Your generosity, in fact, could save as many as eight lives. It might also help many others who need donated tissue to recover from burns and other injuries or to regain lost vision or hearing.

A widespread need

Your generosity is sorely needed. On any given day in this country, about 79 people receive organ transplants, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But another 18 people die waiting for transplants that can't take place because of a shortage of donated organs.

Right now, there are more than 100,000 people on waiting lists for a kidney, heart, liver, lung or other organ. Others need tissue—including skin, veins, heart valves, and the cornea and the middle ear.

Don't rule yourself out

There are very few absolute restrictions on who can be an organ donor. Age doesn't matter, though donors younger than 18 need a parent's consent. Newborns as well as seniors have saved and improved lives.

Some medical conditions might eliminate you as a donor, such as HIV or an actively spreading brain cancer. But most people are potential donors. And doctors will evaluate your suitability—and the condition of your organs—if the occasion arises.

Sign up

One way to become an organ donor is to go online to www.organdonor.gov and click on "Becoming A Donor." But to cover all bases, it's best to:

  • Designate your decision on your driver's license, if possible.
  • Tell your doctor, family and friends about your decision.
  • Include organ donation in your will and advance directives.
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