Earlier this week, I witnessed a frantic Twitter debate regarding organ donation. Being a proponent of organ donation, I was shocked by some of the opinions expressed by detractors. While I understand choosing not to be a donor for religious reasons or being unable to be a donor due to health concerns, some of the reasons that the anti-donation crowd were giving were just (in my opinion) ludicrous.
Some said that donation was “gross” or “icky.” Others expressed their disdain for being “all cut up” or “harvested for parts.” And others believed the old, erroneous urban legend that doctors and nurses don’t try as hard to save organ donors because they’re perfectly happy trading the life of the patient in front of them for that of another person that they’re never met.
It probably goes without saying that I’m an organ and tissue donor, but let me take a brief minute to tell you why.
My college boyfriend, S, developed a condition during his teen years that caused urine to leak from his bladder into his kidneys. Over time, the acid in the urine destroyed the fragile tissue, leaving his kidneys non-functioning. He was lucky and was able to get a transplant from his dad, but not everyone is.
According to the government, there are more than 117,000 people waiting on the list for organ donation. 18 people die every day waiting for organs. What if that person was you or your loved one?
Want to become a donor? All 50 states and D.C. follow the practice of “first person consent,” meaning that if the donor has consented (either by joining a registry or via driver’s license mark) then the family cannot override that decision. However, if there is no clear evidence that the person wanted to donate, then the decision falls to their family, which in a time of grief seems like a hell of a burden to put on them.
Joining your state’s donor registry can be done easily and quickly online. Registries also give you the ability to select which organs and tissues you want to donate, so you can spare your next of kin the pressure of making those decisions for you.
One organ donor can save up to eight lives. You can also give someone their sight back or help burn victims by donating skin. I figure that if I’ve shaken off this mortal coil, someone else might as well make use of whatever viable parts that are left behind. Who knows? Maybe one of my kidneys will become President or be the first pancreas on Mars or just give a perfectly normal person a chance to see their grandchildren grow up.
So what about you, are you an organ donor? Do you know someone who benefitted from organ donations? Or if you’re on the opposing side, maybe you can help me understand why.