Piedmont Triad, NC -- There are more than 114,000 Americans waiting for life-saving organ transplants and 3,500 of them are right here in North Carolina.
How do you make a dent in a waiting list that long? There's a group proposing a potentially contentious idea that they say could solve the problem and get more people signed up as donors.
The group, LifeSharers, has an estimated 15,000 members who have signed contracts to prevent people who are not donors from being first to receive their organs.
Members do not think it's fair for people who aren't organ donors to get an organ while donors themselves sometimes die without getting access to an organ or tissue.
"It's not controversial in concept, but I think it is a little bit controversial because it goes against everything in the establishment of the organ business stands for," said Mark Ferraro.
Ferraro is a member of LifeShare who believes the concept is about fairness. "If I'm willing to be an organ donor I thought it's only fair whoever gets my organs should be willing to be an organ donor also."
The group, which has been around since the early 2000s, is trying to convince transplant centers to take this concept nationwide.
They want to create a donation priority list whereby if you're an organ donor, you would be at the top of the transplant waiting list.
If you are not, you would be more likely to wait longer.
"There's all kinds of priorities that organ-donor lists have. Who's number one, who is number two, who is number three. This could be just another criteria," Ferraro explained.
LifeSharers believe the priority list will motivate more people to become organ donors.
Meawhile, transplant patient, Bruce Beaman, is waiting for a kidney and he believes the concept is well-intentioned but the strategy could pose a problem.
"I think that people who need organs may get passed up on. Know the goal is to make more organs available but I think in the short term it's going to make fewer organs available," Beaman said.
Bruce says he and others who are waiting for transplants usually aren't donors not because they don't want to but are rather misinformed and think they can't be donors due to their health status.
That is why organ procurement centers say they are focusing on educating people rather than doing something like LifeSharers is proposing.
The federal transplant system doesn't allow people to keep your organs for a specific group.
So LifeSharers relies of the family of the deceased to select another member of LifeSharers to receive their organs.
You can learn more about the group here.