01/23/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Donate Life This Holiday Season

There is something you can do this holiday season that won't cost you a penny and yet could literally save someone's life. There are over 100,000 people in the U.S. waiting for organ transplants right now. Each and every day, that means today, 19 people will die because they didn't get their organ on time. This includes children, young men and women, as well as older adults.

There are very few people registered as organ donors right now. This may be partly due to the sensationalized media reaction to organ donation and how that makes us feel about it. The story lines that suggest a black market for organs, that someone with a lot of money can get ahead on the waiting list, and/or that you will be drugged and wake up without one of your organs is damaging to the community and especially to those who so desperately need our help. None of those things I just listed are true but they make for exciting movies and TV shows.

Although it isn't fun to think about your own mortality, the idea that, after you're gone, you could help someone else keep living is appealing. After all, we won't need our organs then and one person can save up to 8 people's lives with organ donation. One person can also enhance the lives of 50 more people through tissue donation. This includes giving sight to the blind with cornea donation, for example. If you lose a loved one, and that loved one donates to someone who not only keeps living but lets you know how much that donation meant to them, it makes the loss much easier to handle, much less of a waste and adds meaning to an otherwise devastating loss.

It is easy to become a donor. Just go to and click on your state. Each state has its own rules as to how to become a donor. Anyone and everyone can be a donor. Also, talk to your family about your wish to donate once you are gone. It is often up to the next of kin as to whether or not you will be able to donate if you haven't registered prior to death.

This year the donate life organization will have a float in the Rose Parade and on it will be people who have been directly touched by life saving transplants. You can see their beautiful faces and read their stories here

So have a safe and happy holiday season and make sure you sign up as a donor. It's free, it's easy and you could just save someone's life.