Give the Gift of Life This Holiday Season by Signing Up to Be an Organ Donor

SPRINGFIELD — Consider celebrating the season of giving by giving the gift of life and signing up as an organ donor.

“Every nine minutes, a new person is added to the national transplant wait list, which is already overcrowded with more than 106,000 men, women, and children waiting for a life-saving organ. Upwards of 40,000 transplants were performed in 2020, with about a third of them from living donors,” said Dr. Kenneth McPartland, medical director of the Transplant Division at Baystate Medical Center.

If you would like to become a donor, your wishes can be indicated on your driver’s license, or you can register online at www.donatelife.net/register.

The December holidays are a time when families gather together to celebrate. This is the perfect time to choose to become a donor and talk to family members about supporting that decision, while being sure that your family and friends know and understand your wishes in advance.

There are many common misconceptions about donation that persist today. Donate Life America offers the following facts about organ, eye, and tissue donation:

• Anyone can be a potential donor, regardless of age, race, or medical history.

• All major religions in the U.S. support organ, eye, and tissue donation and see it as the final act of love and generosity toward others.

• If you are sick or injured and admitted to the hospital, the number-one priority is to save your life. Organ, eye, and tissue donation can be considered only after you are deceased.

• When you are on the waiting list for an organ, what really counts is the severity of your illness, time spent waiting, blood type, and other important medical information, not your financial status or celebrity status.

• An open-casket funeral is possible for organ, eye, and tissue donors. Through the entire donation process, the body is treated with care, respect, and dignity.

• There is no cost to the donor or their family for organ or tissue donation.

• Information about an organ donor is released to the recipient only if the family of the donor requests or agrees to it.

“The gift of life is truly the ultimate gift that one can give to another,” said Joyce Fiorentino, Living Donor coordinator at Baystate Medical Center. “You can also give this gift of life during your lifetime as a living kidney donor. There are many options in living donation, and you do not actually have to be blood-type compatible with the person you want to donate to.”

It takes just five minutes to sign up as an organ donor at www.organdonor.gov/sign-up. To learn more about becoming a living kidney donor, call Baystate Medical Center’s Transplant Program at (413) 794-2321 or sign on to the Baystate Transplant website at baystatehealth.org/transplant for a confidential screening process.