Currently I am not registered as an organ donor. For the first time in my life, I am seriously giving it some thought. In the last six months there have been two experiences that have touched me to the very depths of my soul. The first experience was the loss of a teen in one of our local high schools. His family’s willingness to donate his organs saved eight lives. My second experience is happening right now with a dear friend who is waiting for a transplant.
How many people are waiting?
How many lives could have been saved if more people became organ donors? You can simply register online. Then why don’t people do it? I started to look up people’s fears, the myths and the information that exists online for organ donation. I also had to look inside my own heart. The number one fear seems to be this misconception that you won’t get the best care in the hospital if you are an organ donor. It’s a fear that is unfounded. Doctor’s are there to save your life, not to end it for a high-risk procedure that may save another person’s life.
I sat here for an hour and read and read and read. The truth is that considering becoming an organ donor makes one reflect on their own death. That scares people. Others who are already donors reflect not on their death but the gift of life that they can provide. Once you experience brain death, there is no pain, there is no consciousness and there truly is no life. Your body is kept alive by machines. So why not register?
Here are some of the common myths (also in the link above) taken from the website Gift of Life and paraphrased by yours truly.
- Doctor’s won’t save my life if I’m a donor. – They will do everything they can to save your life and will only proceed if all life-saving efforts fail. Permission must be given by the deceased’s family.
- If I am registered, doctor may remove my organs before I pass. – Brain death is the medically, legal and morally accepted determination of death. Again, the family is presented with an opportunity to donate and a series of tests are given to ensure brain death.
- Organs can be bought or sold on the black market. It takes a team of medical professionals to address the complexity of transplantation. We watch too much TV.
- I am too old to be a donor. False.
- I have a history of medical illness so no one one could benefit. False. A determination is made by medical professionals and is case-by-case.
- I don’t need to tell my family that I’d like to be a donor because it’s already in my will. No. By the time anyone reads your will it’s too late. Tell your family.
- My family will have to pay if I become a donor. False.
- My religion does not support organ or tissue donation. Most religions consider it an act of charity.
- I can’t have an open casket at my funeral. False. Clothes and funeral homes have the utmost respect and funeral traditions can be upheld.
- Rich and famous people get moved on top of the waiting list. False. The organ allocation and distribution system is blind to wealth and social status.
- The recipient will know who I am. Your family can request or agree to releasing your information and you can even write a letter. If you do NOT want that you can be reassured because the norm is extreme patient privacy for both donor families and recipients.
Becoming an organ donor is truly a gift of life. Are you an organ donor? I would love to hear from you even if you are not. Do you know someone who has received a transplant? Tell your story. I’m seriously considering registering but before I do, I need to sit down and discuss with my husband and children to inform them of my wishes.
Personally, for me, it may be time to register to give this gift of live and love.