Opinion: How to fix U.S. organ donor system

WPTZ | Karen Hill

(CNN) - Would you opt-out of saving a life like mine?

It may sound like a strange question. After all, you probably don't even know who I am. But that is the stark question that many would be left to contemplate if America makes a much-needed change to its rules on donating organs -- to people like me.

I was two days from graduating college when I was officially told last year that I needed a heart transplant, having been diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy when I was a child. I was still only 21, but everything that I had worked toward so far was about having a long and successful life. Hearing I needed a transplant -- and that my life might be over before it had really begun -- left me feeling like a shell of myself. On top of that, waiting for a transplant doesn't mean that you just feel a little ill, are put on this arbitrary list, and go about your daily life -- you must meet strict criteria to be listed. Plus, unless you are at the top of the list, your wait could be months or years

So I spent the first month of my wait for a suitable heart in the hospital, bound to a narrow bed by IVs and electrodes. With a resting heart rate of 140 and the inability to keep down food, waiting too much longer was simply not an option. Luckily, a donor was found for me within the following month. Considering myself "lucky" to have a transplant may seem odd, but it's not when you consider 22 Americans die each day waiting for a transplant. Even more shocking is that more than 120,000 Americans are waiting for a transplant. Continue reading