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Reader's view: Simple change can improve organ donation system

The Sept. 6 story about organ donation and LifeSource ("Nearly 10 years after heart problems began, woman is back in the paddle") highlighted the tragic shortage of human organs for transplant operations. More than half of the 100,000 Americans o...

The Sept. 6 story about organ donation and LifeSource ("Nearly 10 years after heart problems began, woman is back in the paddle") highlighted the tragic shortage of human organs for transplant operations. More than half of the 100,000 Americans on the national transplant waiting list will die before they get a transplant. Most of these deaths are needless.

Americans bury or cremate 20,000 transplantable organs every year. There is a simple way to put a big dent in the organ shortage -- give donated organs first to people who have agreed to donate their own organs when they die. Giving organs first to organ donors would convince more people to register as organ donors. It also would make the organ allocation system fairer. People who aren't willing to share the gift of life should go to the back of the waiting list as long as there is a shortage of organs. Anyone who wants to donate their organs to others who have agreed to donate theirs can join LifeSharers.

LifeSharers is a nonprofit network of organ donors who agree to offer their organs first to other organ donors when they die. Membership is free. There is no age limit. Parents can enroll their minor children, and no one is excluded due to any pre-existing medical condition. LifeSharers has more than 12,000 members, including 219 in Minnesota.

David Undis

Nashville, Tenn.

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The writer is executive director of LifeSharers (at lifesharers.org).

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