Friday, January 20, 2012
Last week I was visiting a friend who shared with me the remarkable, perhaps even miraculous, story of how he received a kidney transplant last summer. It quite literally saved his life, and you can imagine the emotion in his voice as he told me about it, including the powerful story of exchanging letters with the donor's family. I've been thinking about it since then and realized it was time for me to act.
Today I registered with the State of NJ to be an organ and tissue donor upon my death. It's a very simple process that can be done through the Division of Motor Vehicles when you get or renew your driver's license, or you can do it on line. The US government oversees and coordinates the program nationally and through their website you can connect to your state's registry. As of today, there are more than 112,000 people waiting for an organ. What an amazing opportunity to make a difference!
So if this is so simple, why have I waited so long to register? To be perfectly honest, it's mostly ignorance coupled with some laziness. Ignorance in that I really wasn't familiar with how to go about registering, and laziness in that I never bothered to take 5 minutes to figure it out.
In some ways, it reminds me of my decision to give blood regularly. For many years, I never gave blood, and for no particular good reason. I just didn't think about it seriously and didn't bother, I'm embarassed to admit. Once I began to give blood about 5 or 6 years ago, and realized how easy it was and how vital it is, I became a regular. While my organs won't be used during my natural lifetime, they're nonetheless even more vital and could well be the difference between life and death for someone in the future. It's an intentional act of kindness that hopefully won't show its impact until this year is long over, but it likely will be the most significant act I do all year.