Gift of Life: Organ Donation is Heroic Act

by Nancy Wurtzel on May 2, 2016

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Better late than never?  April was National Donate Life Month. I meant to share information about organ donation, but the days slipped away and May is here.

Most people do not want to contemplate their own demise. Yet, that’s the one thing all humans have in common, no one gets out alive.  However, what if a part of you could continue living, even after your body has expired?  It’s possible you could extend life for others just by choosing to donate your body’s organs, eyes and tissue following your death.

What a remarkable, compassionate, even heroic gift.

Organ Donation May Save My Sister’s Life

Personally, organ donation is important in my life.  My older sister, Barbara, has been living with a lung disease for two decades.  Doctors have told her that without a double lung transplant she only has a few years to live.  Now she is listed for transplantation, and is waiting for the phone call that will hopefully give her the chance to live a much longer, healthier life.

Sadly, there are not enough donated organs for those waiting.  On average, 22 people a day will die while waiting for a suitable match.

One of these people could easily be my sister.

According to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), over 121,000 people in the U.S. currently need a lifesaving organ transplant, and every 10 minutes another person is added to the list.

About 90 percent of Americans say they support organ donation, but only 51% of adults are registered as a donor.

That’s a huge gap.

It made me wonder why more people don’t check the organ donation box when they obtain or renew a license with the DMV or register online.

Fact vs. Fiction in Organ Donation

I think people are squeamish while others have unfounded fears. To separate fact from fiction about donation and organ procurement, I did some digging.  I found a page on the Mayo Clinic website as well as a page on the DMV website, and both were helpful.

Here’s what I learned.

  • Those concerned their faith would disapprove of their decision to donate, needn’t worry.  All major religions allow and support organ donation.
  • Donors can opt to give all of their organs, eyes, and tissue or designate specific organs and tissue.
  • Age isn’t a determining factor as donations are carefully evaluated after death to determine viability.
  • There is no cost to the family or the deceased estate.
  • Organs are not sold on a so-called black market.  Likewise, everyone is considered equal when they are on the transplant list, so no one (even the rich, famous or wealthy) has priority over another person.
  • Posthumous organ donation will never cause physicians to hasten a death in order to procure organs.

caregiving-caregiver-dementia-organ donation-love-No one likes to ponder their own death.  It’s easier to look the other way and think “this will never happen to me.”  Truth be told, until very recently, I thought the same thing.

While I’ve always opted “yes” on every DMV form to allow for organ donation, I never considered transplantation could potentially save the life of someone I love.

I’m grateful to those who have already decided to give the gift of life at the end of their own life.  I encourage others to make the choice to donate.  Even though National Donate Life Month is over for this year, it’s not too late.

You can easily register today to be a donor, and a part of you may live on in someone else.  What are you waiting for?

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1 MARSHA HAVEN February 5, 2017 at 9:50 am

I’ve also heard and heeded advice to make sure your family knows your organ donation wishes, as sometimes driver’s licenses aren’t immediately available.

2 Nancy Wurtzel May 12, 2016 at 12:45 pm

Kim, Many thanks for coming to my blog and for your comment. Organ donation is so important…We are still waiting.

3 Kim May 3, 2016 at 6:49 pm

My sister was briefly on the liver transplant list before they removed her because she went downhill too quickly. I understand how you feel.

Please everyone, what is in this post is true. There is no cost to the family with organ donation. Just tick that box on your driver license.

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