April is usually recognized for its winds and showers, but April is also an opportunity for New Mexicans to participate in National Donate Life Month and give the “gift of life” to our neighbors in need.
National Donate Life Month encourages all Americans to register as donors of organs and tissue. One hundred million people in the United States have signed up as donors, yet there is still a vast disparity in the number of people needing organs and the number of organs available.
In New Mexico, approximately 750 people are on the waiting list to receive a life-saving organ. Sadly, the wait for a transplant can be up to five years, and many people die while waiting for a transplant. The unfortunate truth is that one more person will be added to the waiting list by the time you’re done reading this column.
At New Mexico Donor Services, our dedicated employees and professionals devote every day to the science, health and hope of connecting lives through donation and transplantation in New Mexico. But we can’t fulfill our mission and combat the staggering disparity in those who need transplants and available organs and tissue without your help.
As part of our work, we often hear about misconceptions that people have regarding organ and tissue donation. I’d like to address a few of these myths:
♦ Being an organ donor may impact the quality of health care received: This is simply untrue. Organ recovery takes place only after doctors do all in their power to preserve your life and consent is honored or provided by a family member. Becoming a donor will never affect the quality of your medical care.
♦ My age, medical history or beliefs prevent me from becoming an organ donor: People of all ages and medical histories can consider themselves potential donors. And many major religions support or permit donation and consider it an act of charity.
♦ Organ donation is expensive: Organ donation is free. When a family considers donation as an option, you can be assured that the donor family pays none of the costs associated with donation.
♦ Organ donors cannot have open casket funerals: This is false. The process does not impact how a loved one might be honored, and our organ procurement organizations take every measure to ensure families can have whatever type of service they desire.
♦ Becoming an organ donor is difficult: In fact, becoming an organ donor is easy!
You can sign up as an organ, tissue and eye donor when you register for or renew your driver’s license or ID card. Of course, you don’t have to wait until your next visit to the MVD to join. You can visit www.NMdonor.org today and follow the simple instructions to complete the registry sign-up. If you do not have a driver’s license or Internet access, you may sign up by requesting a donor registration form by calling New Mexico Donor Services at (505) 843-7672.
On behalf of those awaiting a transplant, I encourage you to visit www.NMdonor.org today and join more than 1 million New Mexicans who are already committed to giving the gift of life. It’s easy, and this small gesture can make a massive impact and save a life.