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Thursday, April 20, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 137

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Organ donors give life to unfortunate

Margaret Mitchell

A show of hands, please, for those who believe recycling is a good idea. I'll bet most of you do. After all, when you're finished with a can or newspaper, it's easy to just toss it into a special container.

What about old clothes that you don't need anymore? If they're still good, do you throw them in the garbage or donate them to a charity so others can use them? If you had a coat hanging in your closet that hasn't fit you since eighth grade, or that you never liked or never wear, would you purposely leave it hanging in there if you knew somebody else was freezing in December?

I think most people believe that giving away something they have but no longer need to someone who is in need of that very thing is the right thing to do, and I'm sure you do it whenever you can.

With that in mind, have you signed up to become an organ donor?

I know that it's not the most pleasant thing to think about, but it's something everyone should seriously consider. This week is National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week, and I can't think of a better time to bring it up.

Organ donation is the ultimate form of recycling: It's giving away something you can't use anymore to someone else who desperately needs it. More than 67,000 people are currently waiting for organ transplants in the United States, many of whom will die because organs won't become available in time.

Perhaps you've noted on your driver's license that you want to be an organ donor. While this is a great first step, it is not enough. Before actual donation of organs can take place, the consent of the donor's family is required. Without the family's consent, there will be no donation.

I understand that thinking about organ donation means thinking about your own mortality. Nobody gets up in the morning and thinks, "OK, I need to go to the grocery store, pick up the dry cleaning and, oh yeah, get killed in an auto accident at 4:30 p.m." But it happens.

If, God forbid, you do end up in an accident or have an aneurysm or something, the doctors are going to do everything they can to save you. It's not like some B-movie where they are itching to pull the plug so they can clean up on the black market by selling pieces of you.

But if it reaches the point where you are brain dead or have no chance of survival, your family will be faced with making a decision about what to do -- quickly.

If you have decided that you want to be an organ donor, you must discuss it with your family. You need to tell your wishes to the people who would be sitting in a hospital waiting room making that ultimate decision. Tell them to take what you don't need anymore and give it to others who do.

Tell them you want to give someone else a second chance, to give the gift of life to a child who wants to grow up or to a mother or father who wants to be around to see their own children grow up, go to college and get married.

Being an organ donor costs your family nothing; the organ procurement organization, such as LifeGift in Texas, pays these costs. And donating what's inside is not going to change the way you look on the outside.

If you don't want to be a donor because you think, "It's against my religion," find out. Don't just use that as an excuse -- ask your priest, rabbi or minister.

I hope that organ donation is something you will give careful consideration to, and that you will let your family know of your choice. Life is the most wonderful gift you can give.

If you have any questions about organ donation, you can call LifeGift at 1-800-633-6562 or visit its Web site at www.lifegift.org.

Mitchell, a junior political science major, 
can be reached at smeggie37@compuserve.com.

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