Donate life

Every person should have the chance to live. Have you thought about giving that gift to someone else?

April marks the 12th year of National Donate Life Month. This 30-day occasion is sponsored by Donate Life America – one of the country’s leading organ and tissue donor awareness organizations. The goal of National Donate Life Month is to honor the heroes who make the choice to save countless lives every year while also calling attention to how many more lives could be saved.

As a recipient myself, this occasion is unquestionably important to me. When I was five weeks old, my parents were informed that I was suffering from cardiomyopathy – a disease that causes heart muscle to replace itself with tissue. I needed a new heart. I can only imagine how exhausting the next seven months proved for my family, but eventually I received one.

I have never known the name of the person who saved my life after theirs ended, and I never will. However, I have carried their gift with me every day for nearly 20 years. Without the choice they or their family made, I would certainly not be here today. I would never have attended LMU and I never would have written this column.

You may choose to label me as biased on this topic, and you would be correct, but I hope you will have the opportunity to learn more about what it means to donate from my experience. Recently, I wrote an article in the Loyolan detailing my own experience with polycystic kidney disease. My current condition – which is unrelated to my previous cardiomyopathy – guarantees that I will need another organ in order to survive: a kidney.

Therefore, donation is a topic I hold very dear to me. According to Donate Life America’s website, approximately 21 people will die today as a result of not receiving an organ soon enough. In the time it takes for you to finish this article, another name will be added to the national waiting list. Too many people are suffering from a problem that could be addressed with simple education and a checked box on a driver’s license application.

The steps to register as a donor are absurdly simple: All anyone has to do is mark “yes” on their driver’s license application. That means every single person of driving age in the entire country could enroll to give. It takes no effort at all, yet according to the American Transplant Foundation, “More than 123,000 people in the United States are currently on the waiting list for a lifesaving organ transplant.”

Death can be terrifying. Still, in terms of your own decision outside of religious beliefs, there is no reason for you to say no to donating organs. If you were to die under any circumstance, you would have no more use for your tissue. Despite what some people think, your doctor will never let you die just to “harvest” your organs. Death is a reality and will continue to take place. But you can prevent it from happening to someone else. Why not make life out of the grief that you have been dealt?

You could even give the gift of life while you’re living. Kidneys can often be given using living donors as well as those who are deceased. Living donors give while still alive and will continue to fully function even after the surgery. Many may be familiar with the fact that humans can survive with only one kidney. Other examples for this process include segments of lungs or intestines. Often, living donors could be individuals within the recipient’s own family. These transactions are equally as necessary as other forms of donation, and donors of all kinds deserve respect both during this month and throughout the entire year.

Additional aid can be offered simply through awareness. If you would like to help, do your part by making sure you are registered for donation and educating others on the issue. A single donor can end up contributing to multiple parties, so every “yes” now could result in the recovery of many more people. According to the New York Organ Donor Network, “One organ donor can save up to eight lives. The same donor can also save or improve the lives of up to 50 people by donating tissues and eyes.”

I owe a stranger everything I have because they chose “yes.” This month is more than just a time to ask for others to give and is certainly more than merely the celebration of the life I have been given. This month is the celebration of the life someone else lived, and what that someone else gave, in order for more people to celebrate the future Donate Life Months to come.

This is the opinion of Michael Peters, a freshman undeclared major from Omaha, Nebraska. Email comments to

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Michael is a sophomore screenwriting major from Omaha, Nebraska. In his free time, Michael listens to Kanye and eats fruit snacks.

(1) comment


Deceased organ donation is a good deed, but let’s not forget living organ donors.

A third of all organ donors are living donors. Join the Living Organ Donors' Rights Movement. Sign a petition to get Congress to take steps to compensate living organ donors for their donation related expenses -- petition is on bottom right of home page.

Check out this TEDMED on compensating donors:

The ALODF has already made 84 transplants possible this year.

You don’t have to wait until you die to save a life. Help the ALODF support a living organ donor who can help save a life today.

also see TEDMED talk at

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