12/13/2012 02:30 pm ET Updated Feb 12, 2013

The Greatest Gift From One Person to Another

Here we are again -- in the midst of another Christmas season. And for at least a little while, we focus on family and friends -- and what to give them.

We want our gifts to show thoughtfulness. We want our gifts to be something that is useful; something that is apppreciated.. And when we think we have succeeded, there's that wonderful, very special feling that comes from giving.

And it's quite possible that sometime during the hoiday season, that wonderful feeling will come from giving to someone other than family or friends -- someone we do not even know.

Perhaps it will be a seemingly small and unplanned gift, such as a donation placed in a Salvation Army sidewalk kettle.. On such an occasion we will know not the beneficiary of our generosity; nor will we know what good our gift will do.

There is something we can give, however, which is priceless and yet costs nothing. It is the gift of life. This is the gift we give when we become an organ donor. We will know not the recipient of our generosity, but we will have the knowledge, the assurance, that our gift will save a life.

The need for organ donors can best be described as desperate. As of this week, the national wait list for organ transplants is well over 100,000. There are not nearly enough donors to meet the need, and every day an average of 18 Americans die while waiting for an organ that isn't available. Since 1988, the number of patients receiving transplants has more thandoubled; meanwhile, the number of patients waiting for transplants has grown six times as large.

Information regarding organ donations is available at Statistics on organ donation are maintained by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, which is affiliated with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Surveys show that across the United States the number of people who are willing to become organ donors now exceeds 50 percent. Nearly all major religious groups agree in principle on the use of organ donations to save lives. The challenge is to convert those who are willing to donate to those commited to donate. This can only be accomplished by putting it in writing. There is no age limit for organ donors.

Christmas time is a wonderful time for giving the greatest gift from one person to another.