How to save a life with just a signature

Maryland

MARYLAND (WDVM) — The decision to become an organ donor may sound like a daunting choice but for some, the heart on your driver’s license could change a person’s life.

Donate Life Maryland works to register new donors to the statewide list. Executive Director Lisa Spicknall wants people to understand that organ donation goes far beyond the key internal organs. She explained there are many parts of the body that can be donated.

“Just because somebody is sick or maybe doesn’t feel that they’re in the best of health or they don’t feel like their organs would be viable for donation or usable for donation, there’s tissue, there’s bone, there’s many other parts that can actually be donated that would help someone who’s in need,” Spicknall stated.

"You know we say one organ donor can save up to 8 lives, but they can also enhance up to 50 lives."
Photo courtesy of Donate Life Maryland

George Franklin received his kidney transplant at the age of 21. Now, 45 years later, he is thankful for the gift of life. He stated he just 18-years-old when he began kidney dialysis treatment.

“I dialyzed for three years, three times a week six hours a day, but you’d never think about the future, when you’re on a machine, you just don’t know,” Franklin said. “To think about family and friends and so forth you don’t dare to do that because you don’t know what your future is going to hold.”

Franklin stated his life truly began after he received his transplant. Shortly after he received his kidney, he was able to have a son and watch him grow up, something that would not have been possible without his kidney transplant.

Fraklin has never met his organ donor nor has he been able to connect with them in any way. Currently, there is a way for recipients to potentially contact their donor. However, when Franklin received his organ transplant, no such service existed. Franklin was only told his donor was a young woman from Tennessee who had passed away in a car accident. He was moved to tears when asked what he would say to her or her family if given the opportunity.

"How do you thank someone for giving you your entire life?" 

“How do you thank someone for 45 years? I don’t know. I would do my best, I’d probably come up with something. I just don’t know what I would say or what I would do,” Franklin said. “But I would just sit there and hug them and cry.”

Franklin is encouraging others to register to become organ donors because just one signature could save someone’s life.

"Making it known that you wish to be an organ donor, signing up at the DMV and putting it on your driver's license, and you could be responsible for saving another human's life."

In 2020, Donate Life Maryland saw a total of 446,215 Marylanders register to become organ donors.

  • Allegany County: 6671
  • Frederick County: 19,675
  • Montgomery County: 62,983
  • Washington County: 10,086
  • Garrett County: 778

For more information about Donate Life Maryland and how to register to become an organ donor, please visit their website.

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