Everybody loves a hero—a person who does something remarkable and completely unselfish and then afterwards, when applauded for his or her efforts, humbly says, “I just did what anyone would do.” The truth is, not everyone acts heroically, even when it costs nothing and there’s no risk in doing so. Hopefully that will change after you read this article.
Did you know that April is National Donate Life Month? It’s the time of the year meant to create awareness about the importance of signing up to be an organ and tissue donor and, hopefully, motivate people to take a few minutes to save a life—or multiple lives.
I recently had the honor of visiting with Emily Allbright, the Executive Director for Taylor’s Gift Foundation, the only organization providing financial assistance to those touched by organ donation.
Emily shared some pretty startling statistics with me:
- In the US, over 121,000 people are waiting for a donated organ.
- Every 10 minutes another name is added to the list.
- 18 people die every day waiting for a transplant.
This is tragic considering two other items she shared:
- One organ donor can save 8 lives.
- There is no cost to be a donor.
This sort of begs the question, why isn’t everyone a registered organ donor?
I’m sure that some people have their reasons, and it’s not my place to judge them, but my guess is that a lot of people simply don’t know how. Others are probably misinformed. Here are some common myths about organ donation:
MYTH NUMBER 1: If you signed up when renewing your driver’s license, you’re a registered donor.
This isn’t actually true. While you may have made your intentions known by having a heart symbol placed on your driver’s license the last time you renewed, this doesn’t automatically make you an organ donor. It’s simply a public way of saying that you’d like to be, but you still need to discuss your intentions with your family members who will make the final, sometimes very difficult call should something tragic happen which leaves you as a potential donor.
However, there is a simple way to take this potential burden off your family: add your name to the donor registry.
MYTH NUMBER 2: There’s a national donor registry and you only need to sign up once.
This, too, is a myth. Donor registries are operated on a state-by-state basis, and you sign up based on where you live at the time. If you move to another state, you actually need to sign up again to be a registered donor.
MYTH NUMBER 3: Even if you’re on the registry, your family makes the final call.
I was surprised by this, but it’s also a myth that your family members still have the final say even if you’re on the registry. The truth is that your family does not have the ability to override your decision if you’re a registered organ donor. Because organ donation usually comes from an unexpected accident, your family members may be in shock and have difficulty making a decision in this situation. Why not take that burden off your loved ones?
Become an Organ and Tissue Donor today!
While there is no national organ donor registry, it’s very easy to find the registry in your state. Just go to www.organdonor.gov. It only takes a couple minutes, and you could save multiple lives. I can’t think of a better use of your time.
Save even more lives!
OK, I was wrong—I CAN think of a better use of your time. After you sign up to be an organ donor (which you should do right now if you haven’t already), please take another 30 seconds to share this article through your favorite social media channels. This single act could cause a chain reaction that helps knock a few more names off the list of people waiting for an organ! Why wouldn’t you share it?
And please, after you sign up and share this article, consider leaving a comment to let us know you took action. It would be great to know that this little article actually made a difference.
One of the things that I immediately liked about Emily Allbright when we were introduced is how she signs her emails: Outlive Yourself. What a great thought! That, literally, is what you could do if you register to be an organ donor. Thank you in advance for giving the gift of life.
About Taylor’s Gift
Taylor’s Gift (no, not Taylor Swift) was founded six years ago by Todd and Tara Storch after a tragic skiing accident took the life of their thirteen-year-old daughter Taylor, a vibrant and gifted girl with a very giving spirit. Taylor was an organ donor who saved several lives after losing hers. Through her gift of life and through her Foundation, she has truly outlived herself. The mission of Taylor’s Gift is “to Regift Life, Renew Health and Restore Families.”
Since 2010, Taylor’s Gift has focused on increasing organ donor registries, helping grow registered donors from 15 million to over 100 million nationally. In Texas, where the Foundation is based, the registry has grown since 2010 from just over 2% of Texans registered to nearly 50% – an increase of 4.2 million!
Increasing official organ donor registries is just the beginning of the Foundation’s purpose, though. What Taylor’s Gift does that’s truly unique is that it provides immediate financial assistance to donor families. As Emily explains, “there are two sides to organ donation: 1) the donor and the donor’s family that have chosen to give the gift of life and 2) the recipient and his or her family. “
Because organ donation usually occurs when a healthy and vibrant individual has an accident, the family isn’t planning for a funeral and may even lose its source of income. As Allbright explains it, “Taylor’s gift saw a real gap and need for assistance for these donor families.” To help, the Foundation provides financial assistance for food, clothing, shelter, transportation, medical bills, funeral expenses, and more.
According to Allbright, these resources are not provided or even discussed until after the organ donation has happened because there can’t be any benefit to a family for saying yes. Once Taylor’s Gift learns about a donor family in need, its national committee makes a decision and awards any gift within 24 hours.
Clearly, Taylor’s Gift is a unique organization that’s doing great things, and I’m happy to have learned about them. If you’d like to learn more about how you can help with their efforts, please visit their website at www.taylorsgift.org.
A version of this article originally appeared on the freshbenies website and was also posted on LinkedIn.