There are about 100,000 individuals patiently awaiting an organ donation in the United States alone, and the list is growing. Another person is added to the list every ten minutes. Their need is urgent — and time, availability of organs and accurate matches are essential.
Here are steps you can take to become an organ donor:
1. Sign Up on Your State's Organ Donor Registry
To confirm your intention to be an organ donor, begin by registering with the organ donor database for your state. It takes just a few minutes to register online. In the future, medical personnel can search the state donor registry and easily locate your wish to be a donor.
2. Use Your Driver's License to Show You Are an Organ Donor
When you get a new driver's license, you will be asked whether you would like to be an organ donor. If you say yes, your driver's license will reflect your choice and your information will be forwarded to your state's registry.
3. Include Organ Donation in Your Health Care Power of Attorney
In addition to signing up with your state's organ donor registry and using your driver's license to indicate that you want to be an organ donor, it's a good idea to include your desire to donate in your important estate planning documents, especially your health care power of attorney. (It's not always helpful to include your organ donation wishes in your will, because it may not be read until it is too late to donate.) Covering these bases helps ensure your wishes will be known and followed.
4. Tell Others You Are an Organ Donor
If you've documented your wishes to be an organ and tissue donor, your wishes must be honored — whether or not others agree with your choice. But to avoid confusion or delays, it's important to tell others that you feel strongly about donating your organs. Consider discussing the matter with family members, your health care providers and close friends.
These conversations are vital because if you don't document your intention to be an organ donor, your next of kin will make the decision about whether or not to donate your organs.
Give the Gift of Life
By stating your wishes to become an organ donor, you could be giving the gift of life to someone who so desperately needs it. Consider it today and make sure to follow the appropriate steps so that the decision is in your hands, not someone else’s.
Read more on organ donation and transplantation here.