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Commentary: This tax season, think organ donation

Every 18 hours, one man, woman or child dies in Pennsylvania because the waiting list for organ and tissue donations is so long. Imagine the pain of so many parents who wonder every minute of every day whether their child will live long enough to receive a life-saving transplant.

We all look forward to our tax refund, but as you file your state tax return, please think about checking a box on the form that allows you to donate some or all of your refund to some really great causes — including programs for veterans, wildlife preservation and an organization I serve and care deeply about, The Gov. Robert P. Casey Memorial Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Trust Fund.

The trust fund’s mission is simply to educate people about organ and tissue donation so each person can make an informed choice. Every person who chooses to register as a donor has the potential to save the lives of up to eight people on the transplant waiting list, restore sight to two blind people and enhance the quality of life of up to 75 people through tissue donation.

In the past two years, the trust fund’s educational efforts have helped increase Pennsylvania’s organ donor registry by 150,000 people. Unfortunately, even with the increase, there are still 7,000 people on the commonwealth’s transplant wait list. Across the country, 20 people die each day waiting for a life-saving organ.

Donating even $1 of your tax refund takes a matter of seconds and goes a long way in improving lives in Pennsylvania. All you need to do is enter “CODE D: Governor Robert P. Casey Memorial Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Trust Fund” on line 32 (the “Refund donation line”) of the PA 40-IN form, and the amount you want to donate.

You can also support our critically ill neighbors by learning more about becoming a donor. April, National Donate Life Month, is a great time to talk about registering to be an organ donor with family and friends. Anyone can register, regardless of age or medical history, and the process takes only 30 seconds at donatelifepa.org. All major religions support organ and tissue donation as a compelling act of love and generosity toward others.

Tax refunds are always welcome news — please consider sharing a bit of your happiness with critically ill Pennsylvanians. Selecting any of the great causes listed for donation will turn April from a season of paying to a season of giving.

Battat chairs the Pennsylvania Organ Donation Advisory Committee.

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