April 25, 2007

You Too Can Be a Hero

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

Every day, 18 people die while waiting for a life saving transplant that doesn’t come.  Every day, someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, or lifelong friend loses their battle with injury or illness, while waiting and hoping that someone might give them the gift of life.  It is with that in mind that we celebrate April as donate life month. 

We need each of you to stand up, and save a life.  In Wisconsin, the waiting list for organs transplants is 1500. Well over half of the individuals on the list have been there for over a year.  Nationally, the transplant list is made up of over 50% minorities.  There has never been a better time for individuals, especially people of color, to give the gift of life.  Here’s how.

Actually, you can donate a kidney, bone marrow or blood now, while you are alive!  A bone marrow transplant can be life-saving for patients with leukemia, lymphoma and other blood diseases. It is essential that more people register to give, because two of three patients who need a bone marrow transplant will not find a donor match within their immediate family.  Out of any ethnic group, African Americans have the hardest time finding a bone marrow donor outside of their immediate family. 

Another great way to donate life is to regularly give blood.  Each day, 32,000 units of blood are used in emergency situations, for cancer patients and for people who need regular transfusions to live.  Despite the ease of giving, only five percent of the population regularly donates blood.  You can help to change this.   To donate marrow and/or blood now, contact the Blood Center of Wisconsin at (877) BE A HERO or the Red Cross at (800) GIVE LIFE.

Lastly, of course, you have the ability to give your organs at the end of life.  I encourage each of your to sign the portion of your drivers license that allows your organs to be donates.  You must also, inform your family or guardian that you wish to donate your organs should an accident occur.  You must do BOTH, in order to have your wished carried out.

While this is a tough subject to think about, you have the ability to save the lives of others. I hope that as Donate Life Month concludes, you will all take the steps necessary to give the gift of hope to those who are suffering.  They are waiting for someone to step up and save them.  They are waiting for you.