Getting your driver's license is something every teenager dreams of. Getting behind the wheel for the first time, being in control, and finally having more independence is one of the best feelings in the world. However, there's one part most people forget when they go to the DMV to get their license. That one thing is to check the little box that asks if you want to be an organ and tissue donor. Saying yes to organ donation is one of the most selfless things people can do in their lifetime. After your death a trashcan will either get your organs, or maybe a child, a mother, a grandfather, a sister will have the opportunity to continue to live with your organs.
One person can save up to eight lives with an organ transplant and enhance 50 others with eye and tissue donation. That means eight people get to live on with their lives and continue to do all the things they love and have extra time with their loved ones all because you checked "yes." The transplant recipient will get to do all the things we take for granted everyday: find the love of their life, get married, graduate high school, have their first kiss, and even continue to play their favorite sport.
Currently more than 123,000 people are on the waiting list for an organ transplant but sadly there are not enough people who are willing to donate their organs. Therefore 21 patients die waiting for their call for that new organ. Approximately 150 people are added to the list daily. The good thing is there are no costs to the donor or the donor's family for the donation of their organs.
When I was fifteen, I chose to become a donor when I got my permit at the DMV because I want something positive to come out of my death (whenever that maybe). Life will blossom because I chose to let another person live. To me organ donation feels like I am paying it forward. I can "outlive myself" with that special gift. I want to feel like my life has a purpose and that purpose would be fulfilled if someone would get to continue to live and breathe because of the choices I made in my life.
I have also seen first hand what it is like for someone to have so much joy and gratitude towards life because someone checked "yes" so that they could live. A friend of mine named Alex became a heart-lung transplant recipient in May of 2013. Alex made it his mission to educate everyone he came in contact with about organ donation. His father says he urged all his friends to become donors when they got their license. The year and a half following his transplant Alex battled several different complications post transplant. He took each day in strides and lived every day to its fullest pursing his love for music. Come the end of January 2015 Alex became very sick with a severe infection and was admitted to the Children's Hospital. Sadly Alex left the earth on February 12th, 2015.
Alex brought great joy to everyone he met and inspired hundreds through his Instagram account where he advocated for organ donation. Recently, someone had commented on his last picture he posted before he passed away and said "I got my drivers permit today and chose to be a organ donor, because of your account. I realized how much it can truly save someone's life! RIP! <3" He truly made a difference in others lives because he choose to educate the world about organ donation.
Alex got to spend an extra year and a half with his family because of an organ donor. I got to meet Alex because of an organ donor. I would've never meet Alex if it wasn't for that donor and I will be forever grateful for that opportunity. A total stranger made one decision that forever changed not only Alex's life but also the life of everyone who knew him. With organ donation you don't just change the lives of the recipient but all those around them as well.
I want to live to a day where no one has to die because the call for a new organ didn't come in time. A transplant can extend a patients life for several months but also possibly several years. That's another birthday, another Christmas, and another moment spent with those they love. There is so much meaning and value in life that we don't realize until it's almost taken from us. Anyone who has had a transplant or watched a loved one go through a transplant will tell you it's the most beautiful and bittersweet thing. While one family is mourning many others are given a second hope. Life comes out of death and while there is great sorrow there can also be much joy.
Please remember that the DMV is no longer the only place you are able to register to become an organ donor. In life we are told to always give back and what better way is there to live than being a donor?
*All photos taken from Alex's Instagram with permission.*