In the United States alone, there are 96,000 Americans waiting for an organ transplant. In order to have a transplant though, they must have a donor, and that number is extremely low.
Pam Silvestri with the Southwest Transplant Alliance says, “Everyday about 18 people pass away before the organs that they've been waiting for, become available.”
Waiting for an organ, can be a test of fate and sometimes faith. Not know what’s going to happen minute by minute of everyday. For some, the wait could be a few months, for others a few years. The truth is, it’s a scary situation on both sides. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it can be a life changing experience.
Pam says, “When a lot of people think about organ donation, they think about organs-hearts, lungs, livers. That’s not what this is about, it's one human being choosing to help another human being, once they don't need their organs anymore.”
Carl Dunlap, as many of you know, is the former police chief in Gainesville. He’s also a survivor because of one man. “His name is Billy. I think about him everyday. He's a part of my life. I made that list, almost died, but didn’t because my donor had a motorcycle accident that day. His family on the worst day of their lives made the decision to donate their sons organs.”
Billy was a 21-year-old motorcycle fanatic, whose death in a freak bike accident, saved Carl’s life. In this case, the second chance for life was only a few miles away. Carl says, “I was laying in Dallas dying. The doctor came in and said, within 12-24 hours I was either going to be with my family or not. It was that close.”
Carl had hemochromatosis, a blood disease which eats at your liver. Within a few months of having the disease, he was living a life, where each day you wake up is a miracle. But it wasn’t just Carl that’s grateful for what Billy did. “It wasn't just me that Billy’s liver saved. There was a 11-month-old baby that got the small portion. When you look at that, what a miracle. I don't know how many organs went. His passing more than just my life, it effected others, what a miracle. What a miracle.”
So what is organ donation about? After all, when we think about giving away our organs, death seems to be the only way around it. That’s not a conversation most of us are comfortable talking about. ‘So the way I would suggest to people, is the way we talk about life coming in to the world. We need to start the conversation the same. What do we want to do with the end of our lives. Lets do it now when we're young, so that it's not a morbid conversation, it's not something that's going to scare us.”
It's giving a part of you away, but when you sit down and think about it, those organs you no longer need.
The process is very simple. You just log onto your state’s organ donor registry which we’ve provided below. Answer a few questions, and you’re set! But most importantly, so is someone else.
Carl says, “I truly understand, that if I have to leave this world, take whatever I’ve got left and give it to someone else. I understand the process, and I think that's what God wants us to do. We give our money and our time to help our fellow man and I think we stop short sometimes. "
If we're going give, lets go the full mile. Remember, life is a journey, so don't sell yourself or someone else short.