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Our view: Organ donation is an avenue to saving a life

Published: Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 5:30 a.m. CST

How many decisions can you make today that eventually could save someone’s life?

Unless you’re a doctor, emergency room nurse or a paramedic, the answer is likely few. But there is one way the rest of us could save lives: the decision to become an organ donor.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 18 people die each day waiting for organ transplants, and the number of people dying keeps rising as the list of those waiting for transplants grows – from about 18,000 in 1989 to 115,000 in 2012.

The good news is that people are getting the message with more than 8,200 organs already donated this year in the U.S.

Despite that success, demand is growing. About one-third of the U.S. population is registered as potential organ donors, but that doesn’t mean they all have healthy organs that can be given to recipients, so the more registered, the better.

Organ donations from live donors are obviously a riskier proposition often undertaken by family members, but about half of donated organs come from the deceased.

Signing up as an organ donor now can take another difficult decision away from family members who already are wrestling with grief over the loss.

If you’re not a registered organ donor, there are few simpler processes than signing up through Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s office at www.ilsos.gov/organdonorregister. Just have your Illinois driver’s license handy or sign up at any secretary of state’s office location.

We’d like to hear fewer and fewer stories of preventable deaths such as those of individuals who died waiting for a liver or kidney, and we want to tell more stories of successful transplants.

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