The best gift of them all

Published 10:43 am Monday, January 30, 2012

Did you know you can give hope to others by a simple check of yes on your North Carolina driver’s license?

When you choose to be an organ donor you give hope to thousands of people with organ failure, blindness, bone defects or burns. One organ donor can save up to eight lives, and one tissue donor can save or improve the quality of lives for up to 50 people.

According to the U.S. Government organ donor website there are over 112,000 people now waiting for a life saving transplant.  Right here in North Carolina more than 34,000 are waiting, according to Donate Life North Carolina.

The good news is that 74 people in the United Sates receive an organ transplant each day, but the bad news is that 18 people also die each day waiting for a transplant that doesn’t happen because there is s shortage of organs.

Donate Life America, the national organization promoting organ, eye and tissue donation, launched a bold new initiative to register 20 million people in 2012. In 2011, Donate Life America celebrated 100 million registered donors, which means 42 percent of individuals, ages 18 and older, are registered as organ, eye and tissue donors.

Four Donate Life America events will be implemented across the country by organ recovery units, including Carolina Donor Services, tissue banks, eye banks, hospitals, transplant centers and volunteers.

The campaign will also launch Donate Life America “I am Hope” initiative, featuring 365 incredibly powerful stories of people personally touched by organ, eye and tissue donations.

I was once among those 112,000 people on the wait list. In 2004, I was diagnosed with End Stage Kidney Disease. When my doctor broke the news that I had the terminal disease and would need a kidney transplant you can’t image the devastation my wife and I felt.  We waited, and we waited, and waited some more. I can’t explain the feeling of helplessness we felt.

For over two years we stood at the ready, with bags packed while waiting for a call from the transplant center that a kidney was available for me. I was one of the lucky ones. I had a kind, unselfish individual donate a kidney to me. My beautiful and loving wife donated her kidney that I might continue to live. What more precious gift can one give of themselves than the gift of life?

Take time in 2012 to make a difference in the lives of over 112,000 men, women, and children who are waiting for a life saving transplant. You have the power.

For more information on organ, eye and tissue donations, please visit


Joe Cowart is Publisher of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be reached at or 252-332-7218.