It's National Donate Life Month, and this event deserves much attention.
Did you know that Jefferson County ranks lowers than most of the other 36 central and southeastern Ohio counties served by Lifelone of Ohio, an independent nonprofit organ procurement organization? Only about 44 percent of our county's residents are registered as organ donors, and that needs to change.
Anyone who is skeptical about becoming an organ donor should consider these facts:
Right now approximately 2,900 Ohioans are awaiting a second chance at life through organ donation, and all that's needed is the right donor.
Once every 48 hours, an Ohioan dies waiting for a transplant.
In the last 10 years, more than 2,000 Ohioans have died waiting for a transplant.
National Donate Life Month helps shed light on the approximately 101,007 Americans who are awaiting organ and tissue transplants. It also raises awareness among potential donors who can offer the gift of life when their lives end.
In the Buckeye State, four organ procurement organizations have combined to generate a greater awareness about the importance and need for people to become organ and tissue donors when they die.
Aside from Lifeline of Ohio, there also is Cleveland-based LifeBanc, Life Connection of Ohio which serves Dayton and Toledo and the Cincinnati-based Life Center Organ Donor Network. All of these the organizations work together in the common cause of attempting to draw in more Ohioans to become organ and tissue donors upon their death.
Organizers say they're finding 95 percent of American adults approve of donation as a viable, life-giving practice, but only close to 50 percent actually register at department of motor vehicle agencies when renewing licenses. Remember, Jefferson County falls below that national average.
A reason for the lower number of those registering to be organ donors, officials believe, may be the myths about organ and tissue donation.
One myth is potential donors don't believe they'll be able to have an open-casket funeral if they donate, but the fact is donors are treated with dignity and respect upon death and may have an open casket because general outward appearance is unchanged.
Also, potential donors should realize there is no cost to them or donor families. All costs are paid for by the organ procurement organization.
Apprehensive donors also should know that all major religions support organ and tissue donations as a humanitarian and charitable act.
And finally, no one is too old to donate. There's no age limit, and everyone from newborns to senior citizens have shared the gift of life. In fact 28,352 transplants were performed in the U.S. in 2007, with more than 6,000 being living donations.
The deciding factor when it comes to donating a heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas or corneas, as well as bone, fascia, skin, veins or heart valves is a person's overall physical condition, and anyone under age 18 must have the consent of a parent or guardian.
Potential donors should know that a single donor potentially can save the lives of seven people and enhance the lives of up to 50 or more by donating organs and tissue.
Becoming an organ and tissue donor truly is simple. Ohioans can declare their wish by indicating their intentions in the Ohio Donor Registry when renewing their driver's license or by completing a Donor Registry Enrollment Form available online at www.lifelineofohio.org.
West Virginians can register the same way when they receive or renew their driver's licenses at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Each year we consider April as the month when second chances are brought to attention, so we're asking area residents who haven't done so already to become an organ donor. Consider it your heroic legacy for the future, allowing someone in need a second chance at life.