Its going to be a great day because I am giving it all away

There's a note on my driver's license that says, "Donor." It used to say "Eye Donor," but I have graduated to donating all of my organs to someone in need when I kick the bucket. Nothing to lose. Everything to gain.

 I know it might sound a little odd, but I'm excited about being an organ donor. I like the idea of someone else seeing better, feeling better or living better when my time comes.

Now that I'm giving it all away, I have a warm fuzzy feeling knowing others will have my heart, heart valves, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, intestines, corneas, skin, bone and/or connective tissue; although, they may not want my heart with its murmur, leaky valve and aneurismal aorta.

What made me decide? My brother-in-law Tony is alive today because of an organ donor. That convinced me to be a donor, too.

 I went online to organdonor.gov and I learned some amazing facts – like donating my organs, bones and tissue could save or improve the lives of as many as 50 to 60 people. Wow, who would have thought I had that much life in me

 I also learned that at any given time nearly 80,000 people are waiting for organs. Every 13 minutes, a new name is added to the national waiting list and 16 people die every day waiting for organs.

On the Web site organdonor.gov, I registered with my state's donor registry by printing the South Dakota Resident Organ and Tissue Donor Form. I filled it out and mailed it to Department of Public Safety, Driver Licensing Program, 118 West Capitol Avenue, Pierre, SD 57501-2000. It was that simple!

I printed a donor card at www.organdonor.gov, and with Brian as my witness, I signed it and kept it in my wallet.

If you don't have a Brian to be your witness, ask around: a family member, a friend, the mail carrier, the UPS driver, the garbage man, your next door neighbor, a Jehovah's Witness at your door, the kids playing street football out front, your Avon lady, the meter reader, your Mary Kay representative or the Boy Scout selling popcorn.

Next, I designated my decision on my driver's license when I renewed it.

Signing this form means when I die, a donation coordinator will obtain my medical history from my family and conduct tests to see if my organs will work in someone else's body. Then, all my good stuff – organs, bones and tissue – will go to someone in need. (Yee haw!)

The second best part of this gift of life is that it will not cost me a penny, since all organ donation expenses are covered by the transplanting geniuses. I am not cheap, but I like a good bargain.

Every day is a great day, knowing my organ donor status is marked on the bottom right-hand corner of my driver's license. Is yours?

(For more information about organ donation, please call 1-888-5-DONATE or 1-888-5-366-2833 and follow the prompts.)

A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her columns have won first-place in National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women Communications Contests. In the 2009 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, Paula's columns took three first-place awards. To contact Paula, email pauladamon@iw.net, follow her blog at www.my-story-your-story.blogspot.com <http://www.my-story-your-story.blogspot.com/> and find her on Facebook.
2009© Paula Damon

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