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Amidst candy hearts and red-hued valentines, there is one Valentine’s Day gift that could change lives. February 14 is also National Donor Day, which started in 1998 as a day to highlight all types of donations — organ, eye, tissue, blood, platelets and marrow. It is also a time to honor our loved ones who have given the gift of donation, have received a donation, are currently waiting or did not receive an organ in time.

“My father was a donor back in 2011 when he passed away suddenly,” said Michelle Andresen, safety coordinator at Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab), who is registered as a S.D. organ and tissue donor. “It was comforting to know that his organ and tissues donation helped another South Dakota family to live a longer life with their loved ones. My mother received heartfelt thank you letters from several receivers of my dad’s gift of life.”

This National Donor Day, the Environment, Safety and Health Department at Sanford Lab encourages you to consider registering as a donor in South Dakota. To register for free, visit the South Dakota registration page.

According to organdonor.gov, more that 114,000 men, women and children were on the national transplant waiting list in August 2017. Every 10 minutes another person is added to the waiting list, and 20 people die each day waiting for a transplant. While only 3 in 1000 people die in a way that allows for organ donation, one donor can save 8 lives.

Here are a few facts about becoming a donor from organdonor.gov:

There’s no age limit to organ donation.

Anyone, regardless of age or medical history, can sign up to be a donor.

Most major religions in the US support organ donation and consider donation as a final act of love and generosity toward others.

A national computer system matches donated organs to recipients. Race, income and celebrity are never considered.

An open casket funeral is usually possible for organ, eye and tissue donors.

There is no cost to donors or their families for organ or tissue donation.

The majority of deceased organ donors are patients who have been declared brain dead.

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