Imagine being in a hospital intensive care unit with several seriously ill patients and their family members.
In what seems like an answer to their prayers, human organs become available. And one by one, the families begin making plans with the medical staffers for transplant surgeries.
While the loss of life is difficult, it presents an opportunity to help others.
Some individuals and family members have already taken steps to assure that their organs are available for transplanting and they should be commended.
For others, PennDOT provides a way to make one's wishes known, usually by having "Organ Donor" printed on a driver's license or an identification card. But that's not the only way.
"Potential donors considering adding the organ donor designation to their driver's license or identification card do not have to wait for their renewal notices to take action," PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch said recently in recognizing April as National Donor Life Month. "There are steps that you can take today to become an organ donor and potentially save a life."
To add the organ donor designation to an existing driver's license or identification card, visit www.dmv.state.pa.us and select the "Donate Life Pennsylvania" icon at the bottom of the page.
Once the designation is added, individuals will receive a designation card to carry until they renew or replace their driver's license or identification card.
Nearly 46 percent of the Pennsylvania's licensed drivers and identification card holders are registered organ donors. That's more than 4.4 million who are ready to help others when they or their loved ones are facing the most tragic of circumstances.
That's an commendable percentage but it could be higher at a time when medical advances have yielded more opportunities to continue or improve life.
Statewide organizations indicate that almost 8,000 Pennsylvanians remain on a waiting list for life-saving organs including hearts, kidneys, lungs, liver, pancreas, stomach and intestines.
Tissues, such as bone, ligaments and tendons, can be used to repair injured or diseased joints and bones. Corneas, heart values, veins and skin can also be valuable donations.
We suspect that many readers can identify someone who has been helped by the donor program. That's why we would urge everyone to be a willing donor.
More information about organ and tissue donation in Pennsylvania can be found at www.donatelife-pa.org.