I often ask people my age the question, “are you an organ donor?” Not surprisingly, a lot of people say no. I could never understand why this was. Why are young people so reluctant to check that “organ donor” box?
Let me just say that organ donation is quite literally one of the best gifts you can give. According to organdonor.gov, there are more than 117,000 people currently on the waiting list for a transplant. Each day, 18 people die waiting.
Young people often do not think about organ donation as something they need to decide because they are so young. We may have these feelings of “that will never happen to me.” Not to be morbid, but you honestly never know.
As an organ donor, you have the ability to save up to eight lives or enhance over 50. You do not have to be deceased to donate, either. The deceased can donate kidneys, pancreas, a liver, lungs, a heart, tissue and intestines. Living donors can give kidney or a portion of the liver, lung or intestine, and in some instances, eyes and tissues.
Turns out there are many common misconceptions that deter people from wanting to donate their organs in the event of an accident. A top concern is fear. Fear that doctors will not try as hard to save them if they are a donor as opposed to a non-donor. This is not true. A doctor tries to save your life before trying to save another’s, according to mayoclinic.com. The doctor who treats you will not be the same doctor who will be performing the transplantation.
Another reason why people choose not to donate is because they are afraid or uncertain of what will happen to them after they are gone. They want their bodies to be in tact. They fear that their bodies will be mutilated and disposed of carelessly.
For deceased donors, the body is kept on life support and the organs are carefully monitored to keep them in good condition. According to Organdonor.gov, the bodies of the deceased donor are cared for with the same care and attention as a living body would, and all incisions are closed surgically afterward.
Some religions and cultures discourage organ donation because of certain beliefs, for example, gypsies believe that after the body dies, the soul retraces its steps for one year following the death. The body must remain in tact to maintain its physical shape.
However, according to pubmed.gov, “No religion formally forbids donation or receipt of organs or is against transplantation from living or deceased donors.”
Many believe it to be an individual decision, and even more see it as a selfless and charitable act.
It is important to talk about organ donation with your family so that there is no confusion if this topic must ever be discussed. When a tragedy occurs, family members are often too emotional to think rationally about organ donation and may not agree with your decision, even if you gave signed consent.
You can register as an organ donor through your state at your local Division of Motor Vehicles, or online at organdonor.gov.
You never know, maybe you may need a transplant one day. And what if the person who is your match didn’t take the time to check the “organ donor” box?
“Do unto others as you would have them do to you.”