One person can save or improve the lives of as many as 50 people through organ and tissue donation.
To become a donor, log on to the website of Donate Life America (DonateLife.net), choose your state, and follow the simple instructions. It's important to inform your family of your choice. In many states, next of kin are asked to give authorization before donation takes place. When family members are clear about your desires, it can give them great comfort to know they are fulfilling your last wish.
Children can be registered as donors in many states, but the final decision to donate rests with the parents if the donor is under 18. So parents should carefully consider (and make sure they agree on) how they would like to respond in the event of a tragedy. "I have grandchildren," says Elaine Berg, of the New York Organ Donor Network. "I hate to imagine them being in the position to donate their organs. But what if they needed one? That's how you have to think about it."
To support nationwide organ and tissue education programs, visit DonateLife.net and click on How You Can Help. Contributions can also be made to the Children's Organ Transplant Association (COTA.org), which provides fund-raising assistance for children who need transplants; Little Hearts (LittleHearts.org), which helps families affected by congenital heart defects; and the Sean Robert Marsh Pediatric Heart Foundation (P.O. Box 4820, Stamford, CT 06907), which supports research and helps families finance transplant operations.
From the February 2008 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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