Monday Medical: Share the decision to donate

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Yampa Valley Medical Center presents its free Taking Care of Me family health program on "Organ and Tissue Donation: Share Your Decision" at 6 p.m. Aug. 9 in Conference Room 1. The speaker is Catherine Bradham, BS, regional donation consultant for Donor Alliance.

Take a moment to pull out your driver's license. Is there a little red heart on the front of your driver's license? Do you know what that little red heart means?

That symbol means you said "Yes" to a question that was asked of you at the Department of Motor Vehicles. It means you have made the decision to be an organ/tissue/eye donor at the time of your death.

If your driver's license has that red heart on it, you have decided to save or significantly improve the lives of up to 100 people after your death through the gifts of organs, tissues and corneas.

According to the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network, there are nearly 97,000 people waiting for a life-saving organ transplant in the United States. More than 1,700 Colorado residents are waiting for the gift of life through an organ transplant.

Approximately 60 percent of Colorado residents have said "yes," making the decision to be donors.

Your gifts of organs, tissues and corneas after your death will transform the lives of others:

- Your skin could help a person who was badly burned.

- Your corneas could help someone who suffers from corneal blindness to see again.

- Your veins could help someone who is about to undergo heart bypass surgery, and your bones could help someone who is about to have back surgery.

Some of your gifts also could go to medical research, where the knowledge obtained could have a significant impact on the lives of future generations of people.

Take a moment to ask yourself: "What do I want? Do I want to be a donor after I die?" Now, ask yourself this question, "Does my family know my wishes regarding organ, tissue and cornea donation?"

I urge you to spend time this evening sharing your decision - whether it is yes or no - with your family members. Even if that little red heart is on your driver's license, it is important for your family to be aware of your wishes.

If you are not registered to be a donor and would like to be, Colorado Donor Registry can help you take this important step. Visit www.ColoradoDonorRegistry.org on the Internet.

For more information about donation, check out www.DonorAlliance.org or call 1-888-868-4747.

Catherine Bradham is a regional donation consultant for Donor Alliance, the federally designated organ procurement organization for Colorado and most of Wyoming. Donor Alliance helps facilitate the recovery of organs and tissues for transplantation in collaborative efforts with Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Bank, which facilitates the recovery of eye tissue for transplant.

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