As you know, February 14 was Valentine’s Day. What you may not have known is that it was also National Donor Day. On National Donor Day, we remember and honor those who have donated organs, tissue, marrow, and blood, as well as encourage all Americans to give the gift of life by becoming a donor.
One organ donor can save up to eight lives. That’s eight people who get a second chance at life, thanks to just one person who made the decision to donate.
When you think of being a donor, you may only think about the small red heart indicating a person’s choice on their driver’s license. While it’s true most solid organ and tissue donations occur after a donor has died, there are donations that come from living donors as well. For instance, giving blood is safe and takes only 10 to 12 minutes. I’ve donated blood many times and it’s pretty easy. About 38 percent of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, but only 10 percent actually do each year. That’s a small percentage considering someone in the U.S. needs blood every two seconds. Some other forms of living donation include giving bone marrow, a kidney (the most frequent living donor procedure!), or part of your liver. Being a living donor is a personal decision and may require serious medical procedures, but you could help save a life. Visit organdonor.gov to learn more about becoming a living donor.
We can all sign up to be organ donors, regardless of our age, race, or ethnicity. I am an organ donor, and I have several friends who have received an organ donation. Newborns and seniors alike have been organ donors, so don’t count yourself out. (If you’re under 18, you may need permission from your parent or guardian.) You can even sign up to be a donor if you have a medical condition. Health care providers evaluate the condition of all organs and tissue before determining whether or not they can save or enhance the lives of others.
Every day, 18 people die waiting for an organ, and each one of those people is important to someone — maybe even to you. Make the commitment to donate today by enrolling in your state’s donor registry. You’ll be joining 100 million Americans who have already signed up. Please also talk about organ donation with your friends and family. Together, we can give others a second chance at health and life.