Saving lives is not an optional issue

Currently there are more than 91,500 people waiting for the gift of life. Will you do anything to help them?

Are you wondering what I’m talking about? According to, April is national Donate Life month. So, what are you waiting for?

Every day, about 74 people receive organ transplants, but in the same day, 18 others die waiting for a transplant.

Clearly, there is a great need for organ donors in our country.

Luckily, to combat the shortage of available organs, scientists have been working to develop new ways to help those in need of organs.

And just last week some of their hard work paid off.

A report in the April 4 Lancet stated that researchers at North Carolina’s Wake Forest University Medical School have successfully grown bladders using a patient’s own cells.

This medical breakthrough could improve the lives of thousands of people if similar techniques can be applied to other organs. But it could take years until procedures of this magnitude are available, and in many cases, time is limited.

With more than 6,500 people dying each year without receiving transplants, another controversial solution to the organ shortage problem is mandatory organ donation.

While the specifics surrounding the idea are sometimes hard to define, in theory the basic objective seems worthwhile. Why not use a dying person’s organs to save the lives of multiple other people?

Once we die, we don’t use our organs anyway. Giving them away to those who do need them just seems logical.

Organs and tissues that can be donated include: the heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, liver, intestines, cornea, skin and bone marrow. If one person is able to donate all of these organs, they could save more than a dozen others.

The idea of mandatory organ donation is not new. It has been around since as early as 1992 when The New York Times reported on a research group that supported the idea.

The group, founded by sociologist Amitai Etzioni of George Washington University, came up with a proposal where people could opt out of mandatory donation on religious or philosophical grounds.

The current organ donation system varies by state, but in most cases is an opt in system. This means that those who wish to be organ donors must state their desire to do so.

This can be done by indicating one’s choice on a driver’s license, filling out an organ donor card or simply discussing one’s wishes with family members.

However, seeing as more donors are needed, selecting to use an opt out donor system may work better. In this type of mandatory organ donation system, all people are considered donors, unless they opt out of doing so.

Some states have even gone so far as to make strict laws regarding mandatory organ donation.

For example, according to the American Motorcyclists Association, a New Mexico senator proposed legislation that would allow the donation of organs from any motorcyclist who is declared brain dead as a result of an accident where a helmet was not worn.

Even if these proposed laws have met opposition, they are still worth pursuing. Lives are at stake.

And we all have the opportunity to help those in need during this year’s national Donate Life month.

There’s no need to go out and donate a kidney tomorrow. All you need to do is head over to the Union and give blood.

The American Red Cross is conducting a blood drive this week from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the Student Union Multi Purpose Room.

Every student who gives a pint of blood will receive a pint of Toft’s ice cream. But more importantly, each pint of blood will help save a life.

What will you do this week to help the 91,500 people in need?

Send comments to Taylor at [email protected].