The following editorial is republished from the April 11 Winchester Sun, Winchester. Staff-written editorials will resume this week.
April is National Donate Life Month, a time to reflect on the impact of organ donation, encourage people to consider registering as an organ donor and celebrate those who have saved lives through organ donation.
There are currently 119,000 people on the national transplant waiting list, and every 10 minutes another person is added to the list. Each day, 22 people die waiting for a transplant.
While 95 percent of U.S. adults support organ donation, only about 50 percent are actually signed up as donors. Only 3 in 1,000 people die in such a way that allows for organ donation, meaning the need continues to increase.
As the list of organs and tissues that can be successfully transplanted grows, so does our opportunity to save and improve lives via donations.
One donor can save eight lives. Along with lifesaving organs, like the heart, lungs, kidneys, pancreas, liver and intestines, people can also donate tissue, corneas, hands and face, blood stem cells, cord blood, bone marrow and blood and platelets.
Transplants have been performed for more than a century, with the first skin transplant being recorded in 1869, followed the first cornea transplant in 1906. They have come a long way since then. By 1967, the first U.S. heart transplant was performed.
The first successful hand transplant was performed right here in Kentucky at the University of Louisville in 2001. Most recently, the first successful full face transplant was performed at the Vall d'Hebron Hospital in Spain.
All people, regardless of age or health, can be considered as donors. The health of the organ is more important than your age, and people newborn to 90-years-old have been organ donors. Even with an illness or health condition, you may still be able to donate. Doctors will make that determination upon death.
Furthermore, most major religions support organ donation.
Signing up on your state registry means that someday you could leave behind the gift of life.
The thing with organs is, when you don't need them anymore, someone else might.
If you haven't already, we encourage you to consider making the decision to give the gift of life by registering as an organ donor in honor of National Organ Donation Month.
You can sign up in-person when you get your driver's license, or registering online at donatelife.net takes just a few minutes. All you need is some identification information and your driver's license or photo ID number.
Check out these recently discussed stories and voice your opinion...