Monday, January 31, 2011

In death, a chance for life


OUR VIEW: In death, a chance for life
Amid all of the pontificating on the meaning of the shootings in Tucson, it was easy to miss a simple yet amazing act of selflessness. Seeing beyond their own personal tragedy, the parents of 9-year-old Christina Taylor-Green donated her organs. Some of those organs made their way to Boston, where Christina's all-too-short life is providing another little girl with a chance to live.

She is one of the lucky ones.

The need for organ donations is hardly a secret. As of Jan. 11, there were more than 110,000 individuals on the waiting list to receive an organ donation, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That list grows by one person every 12 minutes.

To be sure, donations are making a difference. Between January and October of last year, there were 23,955 transplants, according to HHS. During the same period, there were only 12,091 donors. Of those, 6,639 were deceased. The more brutal statistic is this: Although transplants save the lives of 77 people every day, 19 others die because of a lack of viable organs.

The true tragedy is that there is no need for this. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control reveal that more than 2.4 million residents of the United States die every year, and only about half of one percent of those offer their organs, despite the fact that almost anyone can donate.

In Massachusetts, signing up for organ donation takes only a matter of minutes. You can register at right away. When you renew your license, you can simply check off a box, and the information will appear on your new license in the form of a small heart. You even have the option to donate or not donate particular organs.

Christina's death can also help dispel some of the misconceptions associated with organ donation. Except for a very limited number of exceptions, anyone, regardless of his or her age, can be a donor. The corneas of a 90-year-old may help someone see. Or the heart of a 9-year-old may beat in the chest of another young child. If the person is under 18, parents can authorize the donation, as in the case of the Green family.

End-of-life discussions are difficult for most of us. Some worry that talking about our demise may somehow hasten it. Others are simply squeamish about the topic because it is an admission of our own mortality.

But we must put aside such hesitations. If it were our parent, our spouse, or our child waiting for that chance to live, would we not move heaven and earth to give them that chance?

John and Roxanna Green certainly would have. But when they faced a truth that every parent fears above all else, that they could do no more for their precious daughter, they did not flinch. They looked in the face of senseless death and saw instead a chance for life.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Register to be an organ and tissue donor & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”
Register to be a donor in Ontario at Trillium Gift of Life Network NEW for Ontario: - Learn The Ins & Outs Of Organ And Tissue Donation. Register Today!
For other Canadian provinces click here
In the United States, be sure to find out how to register in your state at or Download Donor Cards from OrganDonor.Gov
In Great Britain, register at NHS Organ Donor Register
In Australia, register at Australian Organ Donor Register
Your generosity can save or enhance the lives of up to fifty people with heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, pancreas and small intestine transplants (see allotransplantation). One tissue donor can help by donating skin, corneas, bone, tendon, ligaments and heart valves

Has your life been saved by an organ transplant? "Pay it forward" and help spread the word about the need for organ donation - In the U.S. another person is added to the national transplant waiting list every 11 minutes and 18 people die each day waiting for an organ or tissue transplant. Organs can save lives, corneas renew vision, and tissue may help to restore someone's ability to walk, run or move freely without pain. Life Begins with You

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