Recycling could save a life

All around our campus, as well as across the country, you will find advertisements encouraging and promoting the efforts of recycling, reducing waste and conserving energy.

These programs encourage citizens to make minor adjustments to their lifestyle in order to better serve the planet, and the majority of the population seems to be making the effort to contribute. There is one aspect of recycling, however, that is barely recognized: being an organ donor.

An estimated 100,000 children and adults are currently awaiting life-saving transplants in the United States, and though 90 percent of our population approves of organ donation, only 30 percent have taken the steps to become an organ donor.

This forces transplant centers across the country to limit the number of patients they are willing to accept or put on their waiting list simply because there are not enough available organs for doctors to risk losing one on a patient that is expected to have a difficult recovery or relapse.

In some cases, patients are weakened because of the waiting process, as was my older sister, Cora, who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis. She waited in a medically-induced coma on a ventilator for so long that her recovery was far more difficult than most, and lead to 23 hospital visits in only two years and ultimately, the rejection of her new lungs.

After rejecting a double-lung transplant, my sister looked “too risky” for a new transplant and was denied access to the waiting list again. On Christmas Eve of 2009, two years to the day since her transplant, my sister chose to be removed from her ventilator, accepting that the life-saving transplant she needed was impossible for her to obtain.

By being an organ donor, you choose to save someone’s life with a mere signature and allow your family to have the same opportunity that mine had, which is to have contact with the donor family. Cora established a relationship with the family of her donor, Erika Castillo-Sanchez, to share her undying appreciation for her donor and her gift. She also established a college fund for her donor’s son.

With no cost to being a donor, your loved ones possibly benefitting and reaping the all-time high for karma points, it is hard to imagine the cons of being an organ donor. Erika’s death saved 4 and Cora’s saved 2; every death truly has the potential to be a new beginning.

Caitlin Hill is a junior majoring in marine science and biology. She may be contacted at