Donate Life Month

Leaving a Legacy

Whenever you hear people talk about someone’s legacy, it’s usually in reference to a politician or wealthy philanthropist, whose life of public service or amassed fortune has already or will someday significantly impact the lives of others.  On the other hand, those of us who are mere mortals rarely have the means or opportunity to leave any kind of legacy behind.

In my view, nothing could be further from the truth.  I believe that everyone can leave a legacy to be proud of, and thousands of people do just that, every single day.  Although they may not leave a gift of millions of dollars, have buildings or libraries named after them, or have bronze statues erected in the park to honor them, I’d still argue that their gifts are truly valuable.  I’m referring to the gift of life, and it’s given freely and unselfishly daily by people of all ages around the world.

“Be The Match”, for example, which is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program, manages a global bone marrow registry that matches donors with recipients and saves lives.  Many who not long ago would otherwise have died from their illness, are now able to live full and normal lives because of the kindness of strangers.

Another way to donate life that’s relatively simple and should be considered by everyone, is organ donation.  In fact, a single organ donor can save up to 8 lives!  Sadly, each day 22 people on average die while waiting for a transplant, and over 100,000 are on the list – just waiting.  It’s simple to sign up, and in many states can be done when renewing your driver’s license.

Blood donation is yet another great example of giving life to those in need.  In the U.S. we rely upon a completely volunteer blood supply, so without this precious gift given freely without reward (other than juice and cookies), many would die.  Nearly 40% of the population is eligible to donate blood, but only 1 in 10 of those who can, actually take the time to do it.

Whether it’s bone marrow, an organ, or even a unit of blood, lives are saved and changed forever when these special gifts are given.  Donating “life” is a legacy that is given from the heart, appreciated not only by those directly impacted – the recipient, their friends and families – but by everyone touched by each of those recipients’ lives.  The concept of “paying it forward” comes to mind, creating a legacy that lives for generations.

– Charles Miraglia, M.D.

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