Governor Daugaard’s Weekly Column: Give The Gift Of Life

daugaardheader DaugaardGive The Gift Of Life
A column by Gov. Dennis Daugaard:

Three-year-old Stella was a joy to her parents. Her smile lit up the room and she was a very happy little girl. Then, Stella’s family suffered a trial they never expected. They tragically lost Stella in a car accident. Through her grief, Stella’s mom insisted that Stella be a donor, and her eyes were given to a blind man who, for the first time in his life, was able to see.

The man who received his sight was just one of the individuals who was helped by Stella. Through organ, eye and tissue donation, one person can save or enhance the lives of up to 60 people. For the more than 120,000 people across the United States who are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant, one person’s decision to register as a donor can be far-reaching.

In 2013, I proposed and the Legislature passed a bill to establish a new online donor registry to make it easier for South Dakotans to register as organ, eye and tissue donors. Rather than waiting for their next trip to renew their driver’s license, South Dakotans can go online, at any time, to become a donor.

According to LifeSource, the new registry is having an impact. Since 2011, the percentage of South Dakotans age 18 and older who are registered has increased from 53 percent to 62 percent. That’s a relatively high percentage compared to other states, but I think we can do better.

Each day, 21 people die waiting for an organ transplant. Every 10 minutes a new name is added to the national waiting list. The soldier who needs skin grafts, the boy whose lungs aren’t functioning, the woman with failing kidneys – they are all someone’s child, parent, grandparent, sibling or friend. Each person on the transplant list has loved ones who are praying for a phone call.

Those on the waiting list can only be helped by the generosity of individuals who choose to say ‘yes’ to organ donation. The next time you renew your driver’s license, check the box to be an organ, eye and tissue donor. Or, even better, go to to register now.

Death is inevitable for all of us – and, it is especially challenging when it comes too soon or unexpectedly. Yet, choosing to be a donor can be a silver lining. It is an opportunity to save the life of another. Linda and I are donors; won’t you join us?