Make a donation that gives life beyond your own

April is National Donate Life Month, established in 2003 as annual occasion to encourage Americans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors and to honor those who have saved lives through the gift of donation.

In Illinois, Secretary of State Jesse White’s office has been running an ad campaign featuring former White Sox pitcher and longtime radio voice of the team, Ed Farmer, who passed away last year from kidney disease. In the public service announcement, Farmer makes his pitch for donating organs.

“I always say, ‘Heaven knows you can’t take them with you,’ ” he says.

Currently there are 7.1 million people registered to become organ/tissue donors in Illinois, and there are about 4,000 people on the waiting list to be recipients. About 300 Illinoisans die each year waiting for an organ transplant.

Across the country, well over 100,000 men, women and children are in need of a lifesaving transplant. Another person is added to the waiting list every 10 minutes, and 22 succumb to their health conditions because the organ they need is not donated in time.

These are sobering statistics compiled on and widely reported this month in observance of its designation. But they are not ones that we are powerless to change.

One organ, eye and tissue donor can save and heal more than 75 lives. Such donations are made at the time of the donor’s death so recipients can receive vital transplants. As one life ends, another life is renewed. In addition to deceased donation, living donations are a way to share your good health with someone else. Living donors made more that 6,000 transplants possible in 2017.

This involves major surgery, of course, and such a decision should be made only after consulting one’s physician and loved ones. Enabling a patient to receive a high-quality organ much sooner than simply waiting on the registry would allow — often in less than a year — may be a gift you’re inspired to give.

Those of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential donors for deceased donation. There is no cost to the donor’s family or estate for donation, and donation becomes an option only when a patient is declared clinically and legally dead.

A national system matches available organs from the donor with people on the waiting list based on blood type, body size, how sick they are, donor distance, tissue type and time on the list. Race, income, gender, celebrity and social status are never considered.

So check to see if your Illinois drivers license or state ID card displays a red state logo with “DONOR.” If not, think about registering with the Secretary of State’s registry at, by calling (800) 210-2106 or by visiting a local driver services facility.

Another’s life may depend on it.