01 November 2017
“YES” to saving lives
Every teenager dreams of getting their license and becoming
a free and independent individual. While most parents are educating their
children about all the aspects of safe driving and being in control, most are
forgetting something very important! Marking that little box labeled “Organ,
Tissue and Eye donor”. Saying yes to being a donor is one of most selfless things
one can do and becoming a hero at the time of departure from this world. After death,
a trashcan will get one’s organs but checking that little box means giving maybe
a child, a parent, a grandparent, a sibling, the opportunity to continue to
live on with a new organ. Let’s be honest, those organs cannot go with
may have a biased opinion on this subject as I am an Organ recipient and donor
family member. I am also a Registered
donor. I want something positive to come out of my death whenever that day
presents itself. Life will be given to others because I made the decision to
give life. Organ donation feels like paying it forward and I want to feel like
my life had a purpose. That purpose would be fulfilled with others being able
to live and breathe because of the choices I made while standing at the DMV.
One person can save up to eight lives with an organ transplant and
enhance 50 others with eye and tissue donation. Giving eight people a second chance to live on with their
lives and continue to do all the things they love. This also gives them extra
time with their loved ones, all because the box was checked “yes.” The
transplant recipient who now has a second chance, can find the love of their
life, watch their children grow up, get married, give back to their community,
graduate high school, have their first kiss, and even continue to play their
favorite sport (www.donatelife.net).
people need a lifesaving organ transplant (total waiting list candidates). Of
those, 75,360 people are active waiting list candidates. Every
ten minutes a new name is added to that list with twenty dying daily because
they did not receive their second chance (www.unos.org). Organs and tissues that can be donated include heart,
kidneys, lungs, pancreas, liver (which can be split into two), intestines,
corneas, skin, tendons, bone, nerve, bone marrow and heart valves. Research
and education are also making limbs, face, sexual organs, bladders, and uterus’s
possible for transplant. While not very common it is being done successfully. People
of all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential donors.
One’s medical condition at the time of death will determine what organs and
tissues can be donated. Also, donors are needed from all ethnic groups
and races. Transplant rejection and success rates increase when organs are
matched with members of the same ethnic background and size.
why would one not want to be a donor? In my six years working in Organ recovery
the number one reason, is body integrity. People tend to believe that the donor
is mutilated and unrecognizable after recovery. This is far from the truth;
organ recovery resembles open heart surgery. Donors are always given the upmost
respect and honored as a hero because well they are! Also, an open casket funeral is possible for organ donors.
Through the entire donation process, the body is treated with care and respect
and funeral arrangements can continue as planned following recovery.
reason is due to religious beliefs. All major religions view organ donation as
an act of charity. Although most religions encourage donation, some have rituals
that need to be completed after death prohibiting donation to take place (www.donorrecovery.org).
In my experience, it has been the older Asian ethnicities and Muslims that
decline donation due to religion.
last common reason families say no to donation is time. For the donation process
to take place means approximately 48 hours of their loved one’s body being
sustained on the ventilator and various medications. Families get to a point
where they cannot bare another minute in the intensive care unit. Some may say
that this is a selfish act, 48 hours for others to live? Big decision.
While working with families I like to discuss
with them that sometimes donor families
and recipients choose to contact one another. The decision to reach out and share
their experience is a big decision but
many recipients and donor families find comfort and healing with correspondence.
For the recipients and their family, it can provide the opportunity to express
their gratitude and share their progress and renewed lives. For the
donor families, sharing may help in the grieving process. Many times, these
families connect, forever have a bond and now have extended family.
One person or legal next of kin saying
yes to organ donation can change the world. Something amazing can come of a tragedy
and a legacy can live on. Saying yes or marking that box can give families another
holiday together and moments that most take for granted. There
is an incredible amount of meaning and value in life that most do not realize
until it’s almost taken from them. Anyone who has been given a second chance
with a transplant or been a part of the process can tell you it’s the most
wonderful, rewarding and loving experience. While one family is grieving,
others are given a glimpse of sunshine. With life comes death and while there
is much sadness there can also be much happiness.
The DMV is no longer the only place one can
check that little box to become an organ, tissue and eye donor. Organ and
tissue registration can also be done at https://register.donatelifecalifornia.org/register/organdonor.gov.
In life, we grow being taught to share and be kind and are told to always give
back. What is a better way to live than being a donor? “Don’t think of organ donation as giving up
part of yourself to keep a total stranger alive. It’s really a total
stranger giving up almost all of themselves to keep part of you alive”.