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Donate life

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Sign up to be an organ donor because it’s the right thing to do

By Stevie Lowery

Every week when I'm at the Marion County Judicial Center doing my public record chore I regularly and repeatedly hear people say "no" to being an organ donor when renewing their driver's license.
It infuriates me.
I just don't get it.
A huge part of me wants to jump out of the circuit clerk’s office’s window and ask them why. It’s a good thing I don’t work in the Marion Circuit Clerk’s Office because jumping out of the window to question customers would most-likely be frowned upon. I, undoubtedly, would get fired. But, nevertheless, I still want to know why people say “no.” I want to ask them why? Why do you not want to sign up to be an organ donor? In my eyes, it’s a no-brainer.
One of the ridiculous myths that exist is that if you agree to donate your organs, the hospital staff won't work as hard to save your life. Some people also believe some hospitals would allow a person to die to harvest his or her organs. I would hope that we would all have enough common sense to know that the No. 1 priority of any hospital is to save your life. Unfortunately, some people actually believe these myths.
Another misconception out there is that if you’ve had a serious illness you can’t sign up to be a donor. That’s not true. Fact: Anyone, regardless of age or medical history, can sign up to be a donor. Very few medical conditions automatically disqualify you from donating organs. It might turn out that certain organs are not suitable for transplantation, but other organs and tissues may be fine. Don't disqualify yourself prematurely. The transplant team will determine at an individual's time of death whether donation is possible. So, you might as well sign up to be an organ donor. What do you have to lose?

Here are some more myths:

Myth: Organ donation is against my religion.
Fact: Most major religions in the United States support organ donation and consider donation as the final act of love and generosity toward others.

Myth: I'm under age 18. I'm too young to make this decision.
Fact: That's true, in a legal sense. But your parents can authorize this decision. You can express to your parents your wish to donate, and your parents can give their consent knowing that it's what you wanted. Children, too, are in need of organ transplants, and they usually need organs smaller than those an adult can provide.

Myth: An open-casket funeral isn't an option for people who have donated organs or tissues.
Fact: An open casket funeral is usually possible for organ, eye, and tissue donors. Through the entire donation process, the body is treated with care, respect, and dignity.

Myth: I'm too old to donate. Nobody would want my organs.
Fact: There's no defined cutoff age for donating organs. The decision to use your organs is based on strict medical criteria, not age. Don't disqualify yourself prematurely. Let the doctors decide at your time of death whether your organs and tissues are suitable for transplantation.

Myth: My family will be charged if I donate my organs.
Fact: There is no cost to donors or their families for organ or tissue donation.

Like I said earlier, signing up to be an organ donor is a no-brainer to me.
You could save up to eight lives through organ donation.
Last year alone, organ donors made more than 28,000 transplants possible. Another one million people received cornea and other tissue transplants that helped them recover from trauma, bone damage, spinal injuries, burns, hearing impairment and vision loss.
Every 10 minutes, someone is added to the waiting list.
Each day, approximately 79 people receive organ transplants. However, 18 people die each day waiting for transplants that can't take place because of the shortage of donated organs. Every year, thousands of people die waiting for a donor organ that never comes. But, we have the power to change that.
If you haven’t already, sign up to be an organ donor. You can sign up when you renew your driver’s license, or go to http://www.organdonor.gov and sign up.
When you do sign up, make sure you tell your family and friends about your decision.
Also, while it’s on your mind, sign up to be a marrow donor, too. Go to Be The Match’s website, http://marrow.org. Over the past 25 years Be The Match®, operated by the National Marrow Donor Program® (NMDP), has managed the largest and most diverse marrow registry in the world. They work every day to save lives through transplant.
Give thanks. Give life.