Last Fall, I had the opportunity to meet Chris Klug, an Olympic medalist, professional snowboarder and organ recipient. Inspired by his story, I am now volunteering for the Chris Klug Foundation during the month of April, Donate Life Month.
While I am donating my time during a month-long student challenge at a local college, I am also signed up to be an organ donor. Did you know that a single organ and tissue donor can save and enhance the lives of over 100 people? While none of us really wants to think about coming to a tragic end, how much less tragic is that end if you can save or improve someone’s life? Currently, over 110,000 Americans are waiting for organs. There is clearly a need.
Sign Up To Be A Donor
I don’t know how it works in other states, but in Colorado and Wyoming, you can sign up to be a donor when you get your driver’s license. Look for a heart on your license. If you don’t have a heart on your license, visit the Donor Alliance website to register. Not in Colorado or Wyoming? Visit the Donate Life website for more information and to register.
Alternatively, if you have an iPhone — guess what? There’s an app for that. Download the free “Daily Gift” app to receive interactive information about organ donation and transplantation, and links to state-by-state donor registration portals for online registration.
Giving blood at your local hospital is an easy way to help your community and neighbors. Blood is always needed and donating blood is relatively simple and painless. Plus you usually get cookies and orange juice when you’re done, along with a lot of gratitude.
Be the Match
We had never thought much about bone marrow donations until a friend with leukemia was put on a waiting list. The next day, my husband received an email from a colleague requesting people to register as bone marrow donors, so he did. He signed up at Be The Match and received a kit with instructions on how to submit a tissue sample (swabbing the inside of his cheek) and he is now waiting to see if he is a match for someone on the waiting list. Bone marrow donation can be relatively simple, or it can be an involved procedure. I am proud of my husband for standing up to help others in a way which I can only imagine (yes, I am a wimp).
Be The Match also accepts donation of umbilical cord blood. In the past, when a baby was born, the cord was simply discarded. Today, blood from the cord can be collected after the birth of a baby and donated to a public cord blood bank to help someone with a serious, life-threatening disease.
For more information on both bone marrow and umbilical cord blood donation, please visit Be The Match.
Donate Your Time and Money
During April, I will be at a college talking to students and passing out swag. It’s fun, the students are very receptive to the message and many of them are already donors. For those that are not, a little awareness can go a long way. In addition, throughout the year organizations like Be the Match, Donor Alliance and the Chris Klug Foundation sponsor events such as runs, bike rides, donor drives and booths at sporting events. Visit their websites to see how you can help.
If You Become A Donor
One of the things I’ve learned from the Donor Alliance staff is that if you are already a donor, or sign up to become an organ or tissue donor, please communicate your wishes to your family. There are many misconceptions about organ donation, including a perception by some that your life might be ended prematurely before you are really dead. That is wrong. If you were to be in an accident, a team of doctors would evaluate you. If your brain activity had ceased, your body would be kept alive until the donation items had been removed. Then you would be allowed to completely die in a dignified manner.
If you have concerns about tissue and organ donation from a religious perspective, I urge you to contact your local donation organization. They will have information on the beliefs of most religions that they would be happy to explain and share with you.
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