The small, heart-shaped icon on a driver's license may seem insignificant to some. A simple check mark in a box on the DMV form is all it takes to become an organ donor in Nebraska.
For 22-year-old Jordan Shaw, the act of organ donation is anything but simple and far from insignificant.
"Organ donation is very important to me, as it should be for everyone," Shaw said.
When Shaw was 2 years old, he was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare cancer of the soft tissue. Chemotherapy treatments ravaged his kidneys. At 16, doctors told him his kidneys were only functioning at 34 percent and that he would need a transplant. After seven months of dialysis, Shaw received a transplant from an anonymous donor from Kansas.
Shaw is just one of more than 500 Nebraskans and 100,000 people nationwide currently on an organ waiting list. Only 28 percent of people on the list receive an organ donation. Every 13 minutes, two more people are added to the list.
"I thought I knew what it was like, being part of that list, but reading those statistics really opened my eyes," Shaw said. "If everyone donated, there wouldn't be a problem."
Shaw's donated kidney is beginning to shut down, placing him back on the list. In December he was scheduled to undergo another transplant surgery. As part of the pre-op process, he endured 18 hours with no food or water, only to be told the kidney was not a match 25 minutes before the scheduled operation.
"These things happen," he said. "You cannot let them get you down."
Despite his condition, Shaw adamantly strives to live a normal life. He eats and sleeps like anyone else, he said. He, along with five others, works as an assistant at a before-and-after school program monitoring more than 80 children. He aspires to become a pediatric nurse and would like to eventually attend UNO, but his condition has prevented him from attending classes on a regular basis.
"When I was getting dialysis at 15, there was a 16-year-old kid beside me who died," Shaw said. "The nurses went out of their way to console the family. They didn't have to do that. I learned so much from them that I would one day love to give back."