Live or die with your team gets a third option

Pro athletes have long affiliated themselves with social causes.

My first memory: Willie Mays telling me to "play hard, but play it safe" in this indelible after-school TV ad that warned me not to touch blasting caps. 

That cliché-riddled formula hasn't changed much over the years: All-Star hurlers imploring me to "strike out" hunger or All-American QBs asking me to "go long" for their favorite charity. 

The endorsements must add value. But I never felt they tapped into the true fervor and fever of being a sports fan—until I saw this brilliant new campaign (see video above) that features a Brazilian soccer club. 

"Be an immortal fan" asks supporters of Sport Club Recife to become an organ donor, so they can remain loyal fans of the team forever. As one enthusiastic new donor explains in the video: "Whoever takes my heart, takes Sports Club Recife with them."

The spectacular result: A 54 percent increase in organ transplants during 2012—from 1,094 to 1,690—after plateauing at the previous mark for years. 

Right now, more than 118,000 people in the U.S. are waiting for transplants because enough organs aren't available.

In the New York Metro area, the number of actual organ donors (or "deceased organ donors," as they are known) has actually declined from a high of 322 in 2007 to 234 last year.

With so many sports enthusiasts in America who "live or die with their teams," wouldn't organ donation centers be smart to give local fans a third option?