Mediaplanet: Why is organ donation something you are passionate about?

Katherine Heigl: Organ donation has always been a very close subject to my heart as my brother Jason was a donor. A tragic accident left my brother with a massive brain injury, but he was fine from the neck down. 

Through this difficult and tragic experience, our whole family learned that as human beings we need to have as much compassion for others as we have for ourselves. Once the person you love is no longer able to continue their life, it is both good, honorable and the right thing to do when you gift someone else, who is dying, with a second chance. We all knew Jason and his kindness and felt very strongly that this was what he would have wanted us to do. His heart, kidneys and eyes were no longer of use to him, but helped five other people go on with their lives even though his was over.  It was Jason's last gift to a world he had the greatest affection for. 

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MP: Why should people consider being an organ donor?

KH: There is a continuing need for organ donation. On average, 18 people die each day waiting for a life-saving organ. A new name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list every 10 minutes. All anyone needs to do to be convinced that this is right, is to talk to a family whose loved one is waiting for an organ to survive.

MP: In what other ways can people help the cause? 

KH: Make sure the people around you know your feelings on organ donation, so your loved ones can fulfill those wishes without any doubt. It’s so hard for people to be thinking about organ donation for the first time when they are amidst an overwhelming tragedy. It’s something that no one ever wants to be faced with, and if you make sure that all who care about you know your own wishes then you can spare them one more decision during a very difficult time.