Since 2003, April has been set aside as National Donate Life Month to help encourage Americans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors, and to celebrate those who have saved and restored lives through the gift of donation.
These individuals represent the best of humankind. And, I encourage you to join their ranks.
The impact of one organ and tissue donor is extraordinary. One person can save up to eight of these lives through the donation of lungs, liver, heart, kidneys, pancreas and intestines. A tissue donor may impact the lives of 50 or more people. Corneal transplants restore sight to those whose vision has been compromised. Heart valves are transplanted into children born with congenital heart defects. Skin is used to heal burn victims and for those who suffer from a disfiguring injury or disease. Annually, one million people in the U.S. benefit from life-saving and life-restoring tissue transplants.
Nationally, more than 120,000 people are on the waiting list for an organ transplant, and another person is added every ten minutes. Sadly, 22 people die each day waiting.
Surveys indicate, 95 percent of Tennesseans express their strong support of organ and tissue donation. Yet only 38 percent of eligible Tennesseans have actually registered to become donors - considerably below the national average of 54 percent. Imagine the number of lives that can be changed if we close that gap in Tennessee!
During this month set aside to recognize the gift of organ and tissue donation, I urge you to visit www.DonateLifeTN.org and make the gift yourself. On the website, you will find answers to frequently asked questions about donation. You can also decide whether you prefer to donate all of your organs and/or tissues, or specify which you would like to give.
Anyone can sign up to donate. There are no age limits. There are no physical or medical requirements. There is no waiting period or test.
All you have to have is the will to save a life.
Make Donate Life Month your month to sign up as an organ and tissue donor. Visit www.DonateLifeTN.com today. And once you've signed up, talk with your family and friends about your decision and encourage them to register too.
Together, we can close the donation gap in Tennessee. Together, we can restore the lives of thousands of Americans who wait today in hope for a transplant.
Jill Grandas is Executive Director of Tennessee Donor Services.