I wanted to share an e-mail I received recently with all of you.
Though I am often not a fan of a month for this cause or day for that cause, it is helpful in just reminding us of things we should be working on all year round. April is National Donate Life Month, and LifeSharers.org told me in their e-mail that they have a solution to the organ donation crisis that is causing needless loss of life.
There is a need to create awareness regarding the critical shortage of organ donors, and the ease and benefits of being a donor, is vitally important.
Will you help get the message out? They asked. My reply: Heck yeah, and so will other Citizenhunters!
I promptly called the number at the bottom of the e-mail and asked what can I do to help oh and by the way how in the world did you get my e-mail and why are you writing me? To which the nice voice on the other end of the line said.
"I don't know you from Eve. I contacted you because you're a member of the press in the hope you'd help spread the word about an easy way to save lives.
Lots of problems are hard to solve. The problem of people dying waiting for organ transplants is not. In the United States we bury or cremate 20,000 transplantable organs every year, which is more than enough to save the 8,000 people who die every year waiting for organ transplants.
I got involved in this because I was appalled at the terrible waste. Throwing away organs that could save your neighbors' lives is a terrible thing to do."
So he obviously knew someone who needed an organ or at one point did right? No! I was quite surprised and told him that I would gladly post the info on my blog and continue to research to understand the issue more. So here goes:
FACT: Over 100,000 people in the U.S. need an organ transplant.
FACT: More than half of these individuals will die before an organ becomes available.
FACT: In the time it will take for 8,000 of these people to die, over 20,000 organs will be thrown away: cremated or buried with their owners.
I am Dave Undis, Executive Director of LifeSharers, a community of 12,000+ members who know that many of these needless deaths are preventable, and that there are easy ways to make a difference. LifeSharers members have agreed to donate their organs upon their death, and to offer them first to other members. In exchange, they receive priority access to the organs of other members when and if they need a transplant, improving the odds that an organ will be available in time of need. This priority access could mean the difference between life and death.
By creating such a powerful incentive for non-donors to become donors, this reciprocity-based approach to organ donation has the potential to greatly increase the total pool of available organs. And more donors means fewer people dying while waiting for transplants.
By rewarding those who agree to become donors, LifeSharers also creates a much more equitable system of organ transplant access. Someone who would throw away his organs rather than save a neighbor’s life has no moral claim to a life-saving organ from his neighbor.
And because the LifeSharers network is open to the very old and very young (parents may enroll their under-age children), the sick and healthy, and is free of charge, barriers to access are virtually eliminated.
In addition to addressing solutions to this crisis, I can provide important background regarding:
• The growing need for organ donors
• False perceptions regarding organ donations
• Available ways to become an organ donor
• Benefits of being a donor
KEY ORGAN DONATION FACTS: WHAT EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW
• Over 6,000 Americans die every year while on the waiting list for a life-saving transplant -- one every 90 minutes.
• Half of the organs that could be transplanted are buried or cremated instead.
• The waiting list is growing 5 times as fast as the rate of organ donation.
• You are more likely to need an organ transplant than you are to die in circumstances that permit the donation your organs.
• No one is too old to be an organ donor. People would rather live with an old organ than die waiting for a young one.
• No one is too sick to be an organ donor. Ongoing advances in medical science mean that an organ that may not be transplantable today may very well be so five, ten or more years from now.
Please contact me should you require further perspective on LifeSharers or on any story you may develop on the topic of organ donation.