Potential organ donors should be sure to register

Friday's front page Tri-City Herald story should have had a disclaimer on it that warned readers to keep a box of tissues nearby.

Herald reporter Annette Cary wrote a piece about one local girl that now will live because another died tragically.

Alex Hatley-Flores and Taylor Tefft, two middle school cousins from Richland, both died from injuries in a collision on Interstate 182.

Kayla Jackson, a Pasco teen in need of a double lung transplant, was likely one of nine organ recipients from these two young donors.

Kayla has been on the transplant list for eight months. Her lung capacity was down to 10 percent and had been told that without a transplant, she would only live a few more months.

It is an awful and wonderful, grief- and hope-filled story.

Our hearts go out to the parents of all of these girls.

There are some interesting statistics about organ donation. According to Donate Life Today:

* More than 100,000 men, women and children currently need life-saving organ transplants.

* Every 11 minutes another name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list.

* An average of 18 people die each day from the lack of available organs for transplant.

And here's a statistic that is easy to change. Although 90 percent of Americans say they support organ donation, only 30 percent know the essential steps to become a donor.

It's easy to register as a donor in Washington. If it's something you are interested in, you should indicate your wishes on your driver's license or state ID.

Out of courtesy to your loved ones, you should also let your loved ones know of your wishes.

Washington does not require family consent for donation, but filling out a family notification card will help avoid and confusion or delays. This form can be printed from www.donatelifetoday.com.

From this same site you can also register to become a donor, update (or remove) your profile or register your child as a donor.

What many would-be donors may not understand is that everyone can be a potential donor, regardless of age, race or medical history, and there is no cost to the donor's family.

They may also be concerned that if they sign up for organ donation, their own life becomes less valuable. Thankfully that's just not the case.

Even if you are a donor, when you are in an accident or become seriously ill, the first priority will always be to save your life.

Each life is precious. Timothy Woodall, Alex's stepfather captured this sentiment beautifully when he said, "(God) takes one under his wings and saves another."

Becoming an organ donor is a personal decision, but those who favor the idea should take the necessary steps to register. You never know when your chance to save a life will come.