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Giving of Yourself—Literally

Feeling charitable? A vast array of organizations are eager to accept your donations, but not every contribution has to come out of your wallet, pantry, or closet.

There are also ways to help others that literally come from you. If you are considering sharing in one of these ways, do your research so you know that you are dealing with a reputable organization and are comfortable with how your contribution will be used.

1. PLASMA

Plasma became a hot commodity with the COVID-19 pandemic. Doctors use antibody-rich plasma from people who have had the virus to treat patients fighting the disease. Plasma is also important in treating other chronic conditions and life-threatening illnesses. Because blood is returned to your body after the plasma is separated out, donating takes longer but can be done more frequently.

2. VITALS

More than 100,000 people in the United States are waiting for a transplant. One deceased donor can provide up to eight life-saving organs, including kidneys, lungs, heart, liver, pancreas, and intestines, as well as tissues such as skin, heart valves, or corneas. Becoming an organ donor is quick and easy; most states let you register online or when you apply for a driver’s license.

3. HAIR

Channel your inner Rapunzel! Grow your locks to make wigs for children and adults who have lost their hair due to cancer or other medical conditions. A number of organizations facilitate this type of donation, and each has slightly different requirements for length and whether they accept gray, chemically processed, or colored hair. Check websites for specifics before you snip.

4. BLOOD

Every two seconds. That’s how often someone in the United States needs blood, according to the American Red Cross. The Red Cross receives almost 80 percent of its donated blood supply from community-sponsored drives. Donating blood takes about an hour (which includes registration, a brief medical exam, and postdonation recovery), and one blood donation can save up to three lives.

5. PERSPIRATION

Run for someone else’s life by signing up for a benefit 5K. Check active.com/charitable or your community’s website to find events. Or turn your regular fitness routine into a fundraiser by downloading the free Charity Miles app. The company donates money to your chosen charity every time you jog, ride your bike, or walk the dog.

6. BREAST MILK

Premature and ill babies have fewer complications and shorter hospital stays when they drink human milk, but their mothers often can’t supply enough. Potential donors are screened; if accepted, they freeze extra milk and take it to a nearby milk bank or drop-off site. Donated milk is pooled, pasteurized, and distributed by prescription.

7. ORGANS

About 6,000 living organ donations occur in the United States annually, most frequently among family members and close friends. Giving a kidney, a lobe of the liver, or bone marrow are some of the most common. Those considering living organ donation should carefully weigh the risks to their own physical and mental health against the potential life-saving benefit to the recipient.

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Written by Shirleen M. Saunders

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