Two heart-touching Charleston newspaper reports on Christmas Day showed the compassion that can flow if you register to donate your organs and body tissues after your death.
The Gazette recounted that Eleanor volunteer fire chief Shane Jividen signed up to be a donor -- and after he was killed in an ATV accident, his liver, kidneys, corneas and a heart valve gave new health and hope to six suffering people. One of his corneas restored vision for John Shuman, who works with Jividen's mother at the Cross Lanes Walmart.
The Daily Mail described how 12-year-old Jay Wessels of Charleston gained a new chance for life when he received a donated heart at a Pittsburgh hospital. His parents are former Gazette reporter Andy Wessels, now head of Sterling Communications of West Virginia, and Barbara Wessels, marketing director of the Kay, Casto & Cheney law firm.
Lifesaving benefits like these occur by thousands in West Virginia. The state Department of Health and Human Services says an average of 79 state residents receive transplants every day -- but about 18 others die because no organs are available. Nationwide, around 120,000 desperate Americans are on lists waiting for transplants.
When West Virginia's Silver-Haired Legislature met in the fall, it urged that organ donations be made automatic in the Mountain State, unless a deceased person previously signed a request not to become a donor. Under current state law, donors must register voluntarily, and a small image is implanted on their driver licenses.
A position paper adopted by the retiree group said: "About 90 percent of Americans say they support organ donations, but only about 30 percent actually get around to volunteering."
This is a superb idea. Replacing "opt in" with "opt out" should produce a flood of added lifesaving donations.
Being an organ donor after death is a selfless, humane, noble, compassionate act. We hope the real Legislature follows the silver-haired group's suggestion.