This past October, I decided to register with Gift of Life Michigan.
For those of you who may not have heard of it – I certainly hadn’t – Gift of Life is the organization in charge of organ donation in the state of Michigan. Basically, you give them your name, date of birth and driver’s license ID number and they send you a little heart sticker to put on your license. Easy.
So why, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, are only 58 percent of American adults registered?
I think a lot of it has to do with fear or being uniformed about the process. Personally, I fell into both of those categories.
When I got my first driver’s license, my mom took me to the Secretary of State office. I remember filling out the form and seeing the little “yes” or “no” boxes next to the question asking if I wanted to be added to the organ donor registry.
At the time, I was in no way ready to answer that question. How could I? I was a junior in high school and not at all prepared to think about what I wanted done with my body if I were to die unexpectedly.
However – unfortunately – things changed at the end of August 2018.
On the first day of fall classes, my roommate told me that a high school friend of ours, Chris, had had a heart attack and was unresponsive. Three days later, my parents told me that he had passed away.
Those of you who have experienced a similar loss know that there are no words to express the shock and grief that come with that kind of news.
I was utterly at a loss for how to respond.
However, one thing made it through all the crazy thoughts swirling around in my head: Chris was a registered organ donor. His last act, albeit passive at that point, was to give someone else a second chance at life.
A few short months later, I decided to add my name to the registry. Maybe it was an act of grief, maybe it was me wanting to do something to honor his memory. I don’t know, and it doesn’t really matter.
What does matter is that not enough people are registered with Gift of Life.
Yes, it’s terrifying to add yourself to the list, because it means thinking about dying. It’s uncomfortable to tell your family and to have them think about you dying. It can be confusing navigating all the information about what would happen to your body if you were to pass away and have your organs donated. It’s hard, but it’s definitely doable.
I think a lot of people are under the impression that you can’t be buried if you’re a donor. I think I was hung up on that. But this isn’t the case. Even if your organs are donated to others, your family can still claim your body and hold a proper burial.
It’s kind of silly to think about wanting to keep all your organs after death, anyway. What do you need them for? But just think, someone else could benefit from them.
Someone could be saved by your donation.
You could save up to eight lives just by adding your name to the registry. Eight lives. That’s huge.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide. But you never know. Your choice might just inspire someone else to donate.