LAST YEAR, 5,800 patients died waiting for healthy kidneys, livers, hearts and other organs. More than enough healthy organs would have been available if more people had volunteered to be donors.
This is an old story. The calls for donors have gone out for years. And little by little, the number of donors has increased. But there are still far too few to meet the demand of patients who linger on waiting lists.
The American Medical Association became so desperate that it briefly considered supporting payments to donors. That would have been a misguided approach, one that would have put greed ahead of charity in what should be an altruistic endeavor.
It makes better sense to raise awareness and understanding about organ donations through a concerted public effort. And donors must be encouraged to make certain that their survivors are aware of their choice to donate.
The fact is, 79,000 patients remain on waiting lists for organs - and many of them will die while waiting for transplants.
That's a waste. And it's one that nearly every American can do something about.