April 2016 Column Winner

Celebrate, sign a donor card
John M. Wylie II, Oologah Lake Leader

Our family celebrates two unusual anniversaries.
The first was yesterday, April 6, the 45th anniversary of the day Faith and I met, found love at first sight, and became a committed couple.
It was five years before our alreadymade college commitments ended so we could officially wed in 1976, and we celebrated that anniversary on the wrong date for years. April 6 is different.
But we just celebrated a second and perhaps even more important anniversary— James’ 15th Liverversary on March 22.
At the age of 17, his life was saved by a 39-year-old individual who had signed an organ donor card.
James got a new liver, replacing one that turned out to be in even worse shape than doctors had believed possible, damaged beyond repair by years of auto-immune liver disease.
Today, he is the picture of health. He has to take some special tests and precautions, but he is a rising star in the very competitive legal world of Washington, runs up to five miles a day and leads a normal life.
We wish we had been able to thank the donor’s family, but they chose to remain anonymous.
So instead, we will thank every person who has made arrangements for their organs to help someone else live and thrive when the donor no longer can use them.
They have no idea how huge that decision is and how many lives it can  affect. So let us share some statistics.
April is National Donate Life Month, designed to raise awareness by educating and motivating individuals to register their decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor.
One organ donor can save the lives of up to eight people, restore sight to two people through cornea donation and heal countless others through tissue donation.
Currently, 52 percent of the U.S. adult population is registered as organ donors, 1.6 million from Oklahoma.
Yet the number of people who need transplants continues to outpace the number of donated organs.
More than 121,000 people across the country, including 700 Oklahomans, are awaiting a transplant and a second chance at life.
On average, 22 people die each day waiting on a lifesaving organ transplant.
Registering your decision to become an organ donor and sharing that decision with your family is the most effective way to ensure you can save lives through donation.
Your decision to register serves as a sign of hope and support to those who continue to wait.
We try to sell the story every chance we get, which is why we each pay an extra $15 a year for special car tags promoting organ donation.
Sadly, they’re so rare that we’ve been stopped several times by officers wanting to ensure the plates are genuine. We don’t mind a bit, because it gives us a chance to share our story.
And we know at least one officer who said he was getting plates for his family cars—a reaction that didn’t surprise us a bit from a profession committed to protecting and serving people.
We know of no better way to do so than to sign up to be a donor, so even if your life is lost you will allow many others to live on carrying part of your lives with theirs.
(A new plate is $18 and available only by mail; renewal stickers are $15 at your tag agency or $16.50 by mail; visit https://www.ok.gov/tax/ documents/708-D.pdf for detailed instructions and an application form. The official title is Organ, Eye and Tissue Donor plate,).
LifeShare, Oklahoma’s organ procurement organization encourages residents to enroll in the Donate Life Registry. Oklahomans have three options to register as an organ, eye and tissue donor.
They can sign-up when renewing their driver’s license, visit www.Life-ShareRegistry.org to sign up online or call 1-800-826-LIFE (5433) and request a donor registration form.
And next time you renew your car tag, ask about how to order an Organ, Eye and Tissue Donor specialty plate (which you display while keeping your regular plate in your car).
It is a wonderful way to start a conversation that could save literally dozens of lives.
One of them could be your husband, wife, mother, father, son, daughter or close friend.
So please join us in celebrating National Donate Life Month. A life is a terrible thing to waste.

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