February 14th, 2012

National Donor Day: Why I Donate

As you read this post over 110,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for an organ transplant, with another person added to the waiting list every 10 minutes.  And although this post focuses on the U.S., the need for donors is a global one.  Most of us don’t spend much time thinking about the people waiting for these needed donations, or the impact we can have, but on National Donor Day, I’d like to open up the conversation and share my own reasons for being a donor.

When I volunteered to write a post for National Donor Day I had to ask myself, why do I donate?  Even though I’m a registered organ and bone marrow donor, and a frequent blood donor, I realized it was a question I hadn’t given much thought to.  I wrestled with it, and consistently came back to the fact that I felt good about it.  I thought surely there’s a much deeper answer here, but in the end, for me, being a donor is truly a reward in itself.  While I know this sounds clichéd, the value I get from being a donor has always outweighed the cost, and I consider myself an avid bargain hunter.

A great place to start is to consider becoming an organ donor.   A single donor can save eight lives, and you’ll be in good company, joining the over 100 million Americans who are already donors.   In many states you can affirm your donor status when you renew or change your driver’s license but the process differs state by state.  The next time you find yourself at the DMV,  you can turn it into an opportunity to help others by confirming or reaffirming your donor status.

Another step you can take to save a life is to join the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry.  Many people have reservations about being a bone marrow donor, but today donating marrow usually involves a process, Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) donation, which is very similar to donating blood and virtually painless.  The best part of being a bone marrow donor is that if you’re found to be a match, you’re given the opportunity to save someone’s life in your own lifetime!  Few of us can say we’ve saved a life, and I’m anxiously awaiting my chance to be a donor.

Finally, if you haven’t already considered becoming a blood donor, do so today.   The global need is great.  As an example, someone in the US will need a blood donation every two seconds.   By taking an hour of your time and sparing a pint of blood you can help meet this pressing need and save up to three lives with each donation.   At Johnson & Johnson the Company has a long standing commitment to ensuring the dependability of the blood supply, with our operating company, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics (OCD), providing blood bankers with essential products and services for over 70 years.   In addition to the work done by OCD , Johnson & Johnson has one of the largest volunteer blood donation programs in the US, with over 62,000 units of blood donated in 2010 alone.

Over the years I’ve found being a donor to be an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience.  Few things in life are as satisfying as helping someone else, and what could possibly feel better than helping to save a life.  So today on National Donor Day, do something nice for yourself and become a donor.

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