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attracted international attention, another 80,000 people are waiting quietly for life-saving transplants. More than half will die before healthy organs are found, but one official said just one donor can help up to 50 people.
"You could help up to seven people with viable organs and many more through corneal tissue and other tissues," said Burton Mattice, of
Carolina Donor Services
The shortage of donated organs has led some people to join groups like
. Members sign up to become donors and give other members first access to their organs and tissue.
Brian Mahoney does not need a transplant, but he said he joined LifeSharers in case he ever does.
"I know about the system of organ transplants and how they're in high demand and low supply, so I thought it could only benefit me," he said.
With just a few hundred members, LifeSharers officials said they have never made an organ match. Traditional organ banks say the procedures already in place ensure that organs go to those who are most in need. They agree with LifeSharers on one point: there are just not enough donors.
Carolina Donor Services says 56 percent of the people it surveyed want to donate their organs. Almost all of them indicated it on their drivers' licenses, but only 32 percent carry donor cards that guarantees their wishes will be carried out.
If you decide to become an organ donor, experts say you should tell your family. You can get a donor card from Carolina Donor Services, the
North Carolina Eye Bank
United Network for Organ Sharing
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