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Organ donation is the gift of life, and state now makes it easier

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Sen. Neal Kedzie
April 11, 2010

Each day, about 77 people in the United States receive organ transplants. During the same time frame, 18 people die waiting for transplants that cannot take place because of the shortage of donated organs. Despite continuing advances in medicine and technology, the demand for organs is far greater than the number of donors. That is why I urge you to consider becoming a potential organ donor, as April is Donate Life Month.


As a registered organ donor myself, I know signing up is easy to do. Now it is even easier. The state is making an online organ donor registry available. Those interested can sign up at: www.YesIWillWisconsin.com. This is the first step to moving away from registering donorsí intentions with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to an easy-to-use online registry.


The online registry is absolutely secure, conforms to federal health care privacy laws and can only be accessed by health care security codes. It will be easy to update, allowing registrants to add or remove themselves at any time. It eventually will replace the orange stickers on driverís licenses. Registration does not override the surviving familyís wishes, but it might help families make the tough decision if necessary.


Even though many people have provided organs through donation, the need for organ, tissue, blood and bone marrow donors remains high. More than 105,000 people are listed on the national waiting list for organ transplants, and the list grows by 100 new names each day. In Wisconsin, more than 1,600 people are included on the organ or tissue transplant waiting list.


One donor has the potential to save or improve the lives of more than 50 people. Donated corneas restore vision for the blind; donated bone and connective tissue help repair defects, promote faster healing and save limbs; donated skin saves lives of those with severe burns and repairs functional and cosmetic problems for many others.


There is no cost to the family for donation, and anyone can elect to be an organ donor, regardless of age or pre-existing condition. Medical professionals will evaluate potential donors and determine suitability of particular organs or tissue when the time for donation arises. Organs are matched by several factors, including blood and tissue typing, organ size, medical urgency and geographic locations. Currently, more than 2.3 million Wisconsinites are registered as potential donors.


For more information about donation and becoming a donor, visit the National Coalition on Donationís Web site at www.shareyourlife.org. Information on upcoming organ donation events and more registry information can be found at www.YesIWillWisconsin.com. Of course, you may contact my office anytime for more information.


Sen. Neal Kedzie, R-Elkhorn, can be reached at P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882 or by calling 1-800-578-1457. In the district, call (262) 742-2025 or go to www.senatorkedzie.com.

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