Editorial:

Donate life: Register to be an organ donor if you haven’t already

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It’s a simple question on your driver’s license application: Would you like to register to be an organ and tissue donor? Your answer could potentially help dozens of people — and perhaps even save lives.

April marks National Donate Life Month, and it’s a good time to consider signing up to be an organ donor if you haven’t already.

On an average day in this country, 22 people die because the organs they need are not donated in time — that’s almost one person every hour. Meanwhile, another person is added to the nation’s organ transplant list every 10 minutes, according to Donate Life America.

But here’s an encouraging statistic: Last year, more than 36,500 transplants brought renewed life to patients in America.

One of those people was Don Hansen of Powell. In December, Hansen underwent a double-lung transplant after suffering from COPD. Hansen, who serves on the Park County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees, is encouraging residents to register to be a donor.

“Change somebody’s life,” Hansen said earlier this month. “It changed mine.”

In our small community, families have stories of organ donation from each side — those who donated life, and those who received it.

When Kathleen Shannon died in 2008 at the age of 31, her family knew that she wanted to be an organ and tissue donor.

“Even though it was a difficult time for her family, we ensured her decision was carried out when Kathleen passed,” said her mother, Pat Thomas of Cody/Powell. “The thought that my daughter’s death could be the miracle another family was waiting for gave her death meaning and helped us with the grieving process.”

Thanks to Kathleen’s gifts of life, 20 people received her tissue and two received her corneas, including a woman in Japan who regained her eyesight.

“Kathleen, a young lady from small town Wyoming, has saved and healed lives all around the world,” Thomas said.

For the past 10 years, Thomas has advocated for Donor Alliance, promoting organ and tissue donation in her daughter’s memory. This month, she reached out to local businesses to hang Donate Life hearts in their windows. The small hearts (pictured above) carry an important message: Donation saves lives.

As thousands of Americans continue to wait for a transplant — including some in our local communities — consider becoming a donor. You can sign up online at DonateLifeWyoming.org.

It only takes a few minutes to register, but it may forever change someone’s life.

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