Every Sunday I share a bloom – a small idea of how to improve our world.
Tend the garden of humanity with me by blogging with your own idea on any Sunday.
If you do, feel free to pingback here so we can keep the conversation going.
This Week’s Bloom: Recycle Yourself
When we think of giving, we think of money. Money is a valuable resource in our society; it buys food and shelter, clothes and transportation. Money equals security in our minds. So when someone is in need, it’s easy to assume that giving money is the best thing we can offer. Ink on paper has changed the world innumerable times, but money alone can never cure what ails us.
Giving of ourselves isn’t as easy as swiping a card or writing a check. It requires time, effort, and commitment. More than that, it requires compassion and empathy. When tragedy strikes, it’s normal to ask ‘What can I do?’ and be met with crushing helplessness. This is especially common when serious illness hits. We pace, cry, implore, cook, clean, care, and hope. But what more is there to do?
You can give a piece of you.
That’s right – literally donate your body. Or at least a part of it.
You can donate blood, platelets, and plasma. And you can do it often. You’ll get a cookie, some juice, and a genuine thank you. Plus, you’ve likely just helped someone stay alive. And that’s just the beginning. Every year, around 130,000 Americans are diagnosed with a serious blood disease. The best treatment for those diseases usually involves a bone marrow transplant.
Only about 30% of the patients who need a transplant will find a donor among their family members. That leaves 70% to depend on the kindness of strangers, but only 2% of the population has registered to be donors. Registering is ridiculously easy. All you have to do is sign up online. They’ll send you some special swabs to collect cell samples from your saliva and an envelope to send them back in. You’ll get a call if you might be a match. More than 25,000 patients have received bone marrow transplants from umbilical cord blood donated by the mothers of new babies. You can find out about cord blood donations here.
Giving blood can be done in less that an hour; donating hair is a bit more of a commitment. After all, it takes time to grow out at least 8 inches worth of usable hair. When the face in the mirror isn’t one you recognize, it’s hard to feel yourself. So losing hair to alopecia, burns, cancer, or another affliction can make a difficult situation worse. Organizations like Wigs for Kids, Beautiful Lengths, and Children with Hair Loss take hair donations to make real hair wigs at no cost to the recipients. (And yes, there is a reason Locks of Love isn’t mentioned.) If you’re considering a drastic hairdo change, take the time to mail in your hair for a good cause.
Do you have that cute little heart that says ‘Donor’ on your driver’s license? Yes? Excellent. No? Well, why the heck not? Whether you choose to be cremated, buried, or turned into a tree, you will not be needing your organs after your body has died. Your kidneys, pancreas, liver, lungs, heart, intestines, tissues, and corneas can enhance and extend the lives of as many as 50 people. Register now. It is an amazingly quick online process. Most states let you choose which organs you want to donate and whether or not they can be used for research purposes if they aren’t fit for transplant. After you register, talk to your family to ensure your wishes are carried out. Read this myth-debunking fact sheet so you can address any concerns they might have. If you’re feeling particularly compassionate, consider being a living donor.
Recycle yourself and donate life. What better gift can be given?