Instituted by Donate Life America in 2003, National Donate Life Month (NDLM) is an annual event that devotes an entire month to encouraging organ, eye, and tissue donation as well as celebrating the donors who make life-saving transplants possible.
Currently, there are an estimated 123,000 men, women and children awaiting organ transplants, 5000 of them here in New Jersey. Thousands more are in need of tissue and cornea transplants. Sadly, 22 people die every single day waiting for an organ.
There is a shortage of registered organ donors. Only 1/3 of New Jersey residents are registered organ and tissue donors. There are many reasons for this shortage. One reason is that, unlike many European countries that adopt an opt-out policy, a person living in the United States must opt-in to be an organ donor. This can be done very easily, and takes only a few minutes. Go to www.NJSharingNetwork.org to register.
Another reason people don’t register is that they believe they are too old to donate; that their tissues and organs are of no use. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, there have been donors in their 90’s!
Some people may believe that organ and tissue donation is contrary to their religion; however, this may not be the case. In fact, every major religion in the US supports organ and tissue donation as one of the highest expressions of charity, compassion and generosity.
Anyone concerned that one’s family or estate may be burdened with financial obligations as a result of their donation should not be. The family pays only for medical expenses incurred prior to death and the usual costs associated with funeral arrangements.
Why should you register to become an organ and tissue donor? Organ donation saves lives. It puts an end to patients’ pain and suffering. It gives patients a second chance at happy, healthy, productive lives. It returns them to their loved ones.
Make your wishes known to your loved ones. Don’t leave this decision to loved ones during a time that will most assuredly be one of confusion and grief. Have a living will drawn up as part of your estate plan. Your kindness will live on.