Jennifer WhitsettProfessor FixPhilosophy Tues/Thurs01 November 2017Saying”YES” to saving lives Every teenager dreams of getting their license and becominga free and independent individual. While most parents are educating theirchildren about all the aspects of safe driving and being in control, most areforgetting something very important! Marking that little box labeled “Organ,Tissue and Eye donor”. Saying yes to being a donor is one of most selfless thingsone 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 maybea child, a parent, a grandparent, a sibling, the opportunity to continue tolive on with a new organ. Let’s be honest, those organs cannot go withyou.
Imay have a biased opinion on this subject as I am an Organ recipient and donorfamily member. I am also a Registereddonor. I want something positive to come out of my death whenever that daypresents itself. Life will be given to others because I made the decision togive life. Organ donation feels like paying it forward and I want to feel likemy life had a purpose. That purpose would be fulfilled with others being ableto 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 andenhance 50 others with eye and tissue donation. Giving eight people a second chance to live on with theirlives and continue to do all the things they love.
This also gives them extratime with their loved ones, all because the box was checked “yes.” Thetransplant recipient who now has a second chance, can find the love of theirlife, watch their children grow up, get married, give back to their community,graduate high school, have their first kiss, and even continue to play theirfavorite sport (www.donatelife.
net).115,998people need a lifesaving organ transplant (total waiting list candidates). Ofthose, 75,360 people are active waiting list candidates. Everyten minutes a new name is added to that list with twenty dying daily becausethey 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. Researchand education are also making limbs, face, sexual organs, bladders, and uterus’spossible for transplant.
While not very common it is being done successfully. Peopleof all ages and medical histories should consider themselves potential donors.One’s medical condition at the time of death will determine what organs andtissues can be donated. Also, donors are needed from all ethnic groupsand races. Transplant rejection and success rates increase when organs arematched with members of the same ethnic background and size.
Sowhy would one not want to be a donor? In my six years working in Organ recoverythe number one reason, is body integrity. People tend to believe that the donoris mutilated and unrecognizable after recovery. This is far from the truth;organ recovery resembles open heart surgery.
Donors are always given the upmostrespect 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 respectand funeral arrangements can continue as planned following recovery.Anotherreason is due to religious beliefs. All major religions view organ donation asan act of charity. Although most religions encourage donation, some have ritualsthat 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 thatdecline donation due to religion.Thelast common reason families say no to donation is time. For the donation processto take place means approximately 48 hours of their loved one’s body beingsustained on the ventilator and various medications. Families get to a pointwhere they cannot bare another minute in the intensive care unit. Some may saythat this is a selfish act, 48 hours for others to live? Big decision.
While working with families I like to discusswith them that sometimes donor familiesand recipients choose to contact one another. The decision to reach out and sharetheir experience is a big decision butmany recipients and donor families find comfort and healing with correspondence.For the recipients and their family, it can provide the opportunity to expresstheir gratitude and share their progress and renewed lives. For thedonor families, sharing may help in the grieving process. Many times, thesefamilies connect, forever have a bond and now have extended family. One person or legal next of kin sayingyes to organ donation can change the world. Something amazing can come of a tragedyand a legacy can live on.
Saying yes or marking that box can give families anotherholiday together and moments that most take for granted. Thereis an incredible amount of meaning and value in life that most do not realizeuntil it’s almost taken from them. Anyone who has been given a second chancewith a transplant or been a part of the process can tell you it’s the mostwonderful, rewarding and loving experience. While one family is grieving,others are given a glimpse of sunshine. With life comes death and while thereis much sadness there can also be much happiness. The DMV is no longer the only place one cancheck that little box to become an organ, tissue and eye donor.
Organ andtissue 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 giveback. What is a better way to live than being a donor? “Don’t think of organ donation as giving uppart of yourself to keep a total stranger alive. It’s really a totalstranger giving up almost all of themselves to keep part of you alive”.