Are you on the donor register? If you haven't yet signed up, you should definitely consider doing so - you could save someone's life! But you don't have to wait until you've passed away to be a donor; it is actually possible to donate certain parts of your body while you're still alive. Here's how you can give back by donating …
Giving blood is a lifesaver, so if you qualify to be a donor please consider becoming a regular donor. People from ethnic minorities and with more rare blood groups are particularly in demand. Because blood can only be kept short-term, a constant supply of donors is needed. It's quick, simple and you'll soon make the blood to replace it, so don't be put off - sign up today.
Are you going for the chop and cutting off your long hair? Put it to good use and donate it to an organisation like Locks For Love or Children With Hair Loss. These brilliant organisations collect hair and make it into wigs for children who've suffered hair loss. Your cut-off hair will need to be in good condition, and measure at least 8-10 inches, depending on the organisation.
3. Bone Marrow
Join a bone marrow register, and you could save the life of someone with leukemia or another disorder. There are two ways of donating. Stem cells may be taken from your blood, or bone marrow may be removed from your bone. You'll need a simple blood test to join the register.
4. After Childbirth
If you're pregnant, or have a relative or friend who's pregnant, consider donating the amniotic membrane after the baby's born. This is the innermost layer of the placenta. Extraordinarily, this can be used in many different surgeries. The amniotic membrane has healing properties and can be used to help heal wounds or in eye surgery, for example.
5. Umbilical Cord Stem Cells
Another way of donating after childbirth is to donate stem cells from the umbilical cord. As I've already mentioned, these can be used to treat several different diseases, and it's believed that in the future more ways of using stem cells will be discovered. The umbilical cord will only be thrown away, so why not donate it and let it help save lives?
6. Skin Donation
Yes, skin can actually be donated from a live patient! It's not a very common procedure yet (skin donation usually comes from a patient who's passed away) but in live patients can be done after patients undergo a tummy tuck to remove excess skin. Skin can be used to treat burns and for breast reconstruction after mastectomy.
Patients in need of a kidney transplant sometimes receive one from a family member who is a suitable match. There's also such a thing as altruistic donation, which means donating one of your kidneys to someone you don't know. You can live perfectly well with just one kidney; it's a pretty big deal to contemplate doing this for someone else, but some people feel that it's important.
Some of these donations are major, while others can be done without much effort. But it's surprising what you can donate while you're still alive. So if you can, it's worth considering doing so; it could make so much difference to someone else's life …