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I was 16 years old when I made the decision to become an organ donor. That decision is represented with a shiny red heart displayed on my driver’s license. I’m sure many of you have done the same as well.

April is National Donate Life Month — a great time to learn how to register to become an organ donor or understand the process a little bit better. According to Carolina Donor Services, this year our state is close to reaching a major milestone with almost 5 million registered donors.

Even though nearly half of the U.S. population is registered as an organ donor, there are still many, many people (118,000 in the nation, 2,900 right here in North Carolina) who are waiting for a transplant. You probably know someone or could be one of those people. To put things into perspective, 22 people die every single day because they do not have the organ they need in time. (Information provided by CarolinaDonorServices.org.)

So now that you know the alarming statistics, what can you do to help?

First, register through the DMV when receiving or renewing your driver’s license/ID card. This gives legal consent to donate your organs and corneas after you die.

Second, it’s important to register online at DonateLifeNC.org. This will allow you to provide more details about your wishes — including which organs or tissues you’d like to donate. When you register online, this document will take the place of your DMV record since it provides greater detail about which organs you do or do not wish to donate.

Of course, it’s very important to talk to your family about your wishes!

If you’d like to learn more about organ, eye and tissue donation or to register, visit CarolinaDonorServices.org.

Charles White, hospital development specialist at Carolina Donor Services, will be in the main lobby at Wilson Medical Center on Friday, April 21, to provide information and answer any questions. Stop by to learn more about organ donation!

Melanie Raynor is the marketing coordinator at Wilson Medical Center.

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