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Pledging As Organ Donors

Residents in this tiny town just outside Washington, D.C., made history last week, pledging as organ and tissue donors, reports CBS News Correspondent Barry Bagnato.

For the first charitable community event of its kind, Mayor Charles White plied his fellow townspeople with picnic food, not to mention words of encouragement for all 285 residents.

About 60 of the 100 families who live here turned in pledge cards.

"This is a start," said White, who hopes all Laytonsville residents will be registered donors by summer's end.

"I did it because when my father died in 1966, he donated his corneas," said Linda Fitzgerald, who was among the first to sign a pledge card.

Her neighbor, Donna Potcner, is among the undecided.

"I just don't know if I would want to be rushed right off" after dying, she said. Both her mother and her father died at home, and she said the family had time to gather and say their good-byes before the body was taken away. "I still have the image in my mind of having family time with my brothers and sisters with the body. It's just a wonderful thing."

Whitey Leber said a heart transplant saved his life seven years ago.

"If you happen to die in an accident, then it's a shame to waste a part of your body to dust when it can help another human being to live," Leber said to Potcner.

Discussion and even debate on the subject of organ donation is healthy, said Barbara Kerr, a spokeswoman for the American Society of Transplant Surgeons.

"I think people need to think though this," Kerr said.

But White says he hopes people will act quickly and sign the pledge cards.

Every two hours, one of the 62,000 patients in the U.S. on the annual waiting list for organ donations dies because he or she is unable to get an organ quickly enough.

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