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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 2 million readers. As featured on: CBS, BBC, NPR, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana.

Here, Have an Organ

JFM Walking, Photo by Adam Dressler

There’s usually a serpentine line snaked out the door at the Department of Motor Vehicles. At least that’s always been my experience. Burnt into my memory are half-a-lifetime of Kafkaesque memories, nightmarish recollections of time spent waiting for assistance among the cobwebs at the DMV.

Last week in Missoula, however, there was no line at all. It was a different world: I was helped right away; I didn’t even have to take one of those flimsy paper numbers from the dispenser by the entrance; and to boot, the Missoula DMV employees were fast, fastidious, and friendly.

I sat down and filled out the necessary forms to obtain a new driver’s licence, which forms seemed attenuated and easier to grasp than the bureaucratic stack I used to wrestle with back in Ohio. It was too easy: name, address, DOB, etc., etc. And then my pen stopped as it hovered over the final question:

Do you want to be an organ donor?

I paused at this simple question. I’d never even considered becoming an organ donor—not for lack of caring, but namely because of sheer ignorance toward the statistics. Toward the end of last year, though, my friend Amanda emailed me a similar question: How familiar are you with the organ transplant waiting list?

Not at all, I responded.

She informed me that there’re 117,000 people in the U.S. alone who’re waiting for organ transplants right now; 74,000 of them are active, which means that 74,000 people are in critical condition and unable to work, to play with their kids, to eat normally, to walk up a flight of stairs, to pick up a carton of milk at the grocery, you name it. Only about 20,000 of these people will actually receive a transplant in the next year, and it’s not uncommon for a candidate to spend months in a hospital bed waiting for help. On the other hand, one organ donor can save up to 18 lives and all he or she has to do is check a box on a driver’s license application.

For the first time in my life, I checked the yes box on the form, and thus I’m now an organ donor. Perhaps you’ll consider becoming one, too.

Ryan and I often write about the value of uncovering happiness in life. A large part of that happiness involves contribution. Giving is living, but I’m also comforted to know that even when I die, I will still be able to contribute to others. You see, after I take my last breath, my body will be dead, but because of my choice—my decision to check that little yes box at the DMV—someone else will live.

Find more facts at the United Network for Organ Sharing.