More than half of the 98,000 people on the transplant waiting list in the United States will die before they get an organ, and the shortage of organs gets worse every year. If you want to increase your chances of getting a life-saving organ transplant should you ever need one, you can either exercise a little personal responsibility or hope that the transplant bureaucracy will take care of you.
You can increase your chances of getting an organ transplant if you ever need one by agreeing to donate your own organs when you die. This trade is offered by a group called LifeSharers. Members agree to donate their organs when they die, and they give fellow members “first dibs” on them. Non-members can have a member’s organs if no member who is a suitable match for them wants them. You can join at http://www.lifesharers.org or by calling 1-888-ORGAN88. Membership is free and open to everyone. No one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition. LifeSharers has over 10,000 members, with members in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Directing your donation first to people who agree to reciprocate creates a pool of organs available first to registered organ donors. This creates an incentive for non-donors to donate. This incentive is the key to reducing the organ shortage and saving lives. To see how powerful this incentive can be, imagine what it will be like when LifeSharers has 1,000,000 members. You’ll be crazy not to join if you think you’ll ever need an organ. By not joining, you’ll be reducing your access to 1,000,000 hearts, 1,000,000 livers, 2,000,000 kidneys, 2,000,000 lungs, 2,000,000 corneas, and more. Let’s face it – if only organ donors could receive organs, just about everybody would be a donor.
LifeSharers is good for all transplant constituencies – donors, recipients, the medical profession, and the community. Everyone benefits from its success, but LifeSharers is not without its critics. They say it’s not fair to give organ donors special treatment when it comes time to distribute organs. But it’s actually people who don’t donate their organs who are getting special treatment. They receive about half of all donated organs, while registered organ donors receive the other half. LifeSharers doesn’t create an inequity, it corrects one.
Imagine that two people need a kidney. One of them has signed a donor card and the other hasn’t. Suppose that they’re both a good match for the next kidney that becomes available. It is grossly unjust to give the kidney to the non-donor, even if he is sicker than the donor or has been waiting for a kidney longer. Yet that is exactly what happens most of the time our national organ allocation system.
It’s time to stop throwing the organ shortage issue into the air hoping that Washington will catch it. You can reduce the organ shortage, save lives, and insure against your future need for an organ by filling out a form on the internet at http://www.lifesharers.org. Do it today. Who knows, the next life you save may be your own.