Gov. Mike Beebe... Donating Life

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The New Year prompts many of us to make resolutions to benefit both our own well-being and the communities we live in. There's one simple action we can resolve to take any time of the year: becoming an organ donor, and that action could someday save a life. Signing up to be an organ donor is one of the most generous things you can do -- a single donor can potentially save eight lives.

Every 14 minutes, another person is added to the national waiting list for organs. In Arkansas alone, there are nearly 300 people currently waiting for transplants. Unfortunately, one-third of Americans on organ waiting lists do not survive to receive a life-saving procedure. Of those who do receive transplants, the wait can still take years.

Most Americans support organ donation efforts, and it's easy to understand why. Time and again, we hear stories about how transplants give seriously ill patients a second chance at life. We can imagine the desperation these patients and their loved ones feel while waiting for a donor match, as well as their relief once a donor is found. Similarly, we hear about the good feelings a donor's family experiences during a troubling time. While these donations come at times of loss, they often provide solace in a time of grief.

Unfortunately, many people who support organ donation never actually register as donors. Often, this is because of misconceptions about the process of organ donation. Being a registered organ donor does not factor in to the level of care received. When any patient becomes gravely ill, medical personnel focus only on saving a life. If a life cannot be saved, every organ donor is treated with care and respect, and donor families are given the time they need to grieve for loved ones.

For the past 25 years, the Arkansas Regional Organ Recovery Agency, or ARORA, has been coordinating organ donations in Arkansas. This nonprofit, independent agency has offices in Little Rock and Fayetteville. ARORA works to increase the pool of potential donors in Arkansas through education and assistance. Nationally, about 37 percent of adults are enrolled in such registries. Arkansas performs better than that national average, with almost 1.2 million people registered donors in our State. Nearly a third of all organ, eye and tissue donors are found through such state donor registries.

I encourage all Arkansans, Arkansas employers and state agencies to promote organ and tissue donation in our State. If we can register 80 percent of our adult population, it is possible to end the transplant waiting list in Arkansas, relieving suffering and providing new chances at life for hundreds of our fellow citizens. You can register by going online to donatelifearkansas.org, or register when you renew your driver's license or photo I.D. Through this simple act, you could someday help save lives and bring solace to many families. There are hundreds of Arkansans hoping that the generosity of others will someday give them a chance to celebrate many New Years to come.