Life is delightful; however, death is also not fearful because it’s an essential part of everyone’s life. We, as human, can’t control the duration of our lives, but we can at least make our lives more meaningful. We make a lot of decisions in the process of living, but organ donation is going to be the last and the most meaningful one. Organ donation re-ignites the ended life to brighten the other. It presents another chance for the latter to live again, at the same time, the bereaved relatives may also find a bit consolatory from helping their loved one to make the last meaningful decision. Nothing is mean to be as joyful as helping people; undoubtedly, organ donation is the top choice of the list.
In the United States, There are about 4,100 transplant candidates are added to the national waiting list each month, and constantly more than 105,000 people are on the waiting list for organ transplants (Womes Health). Although there are about 77 people are able to receive organ transplants in each day, this number is still way to low to cover the actual need. Because of this fact, there are about 18 people have to die while they are waiting for transplants each day. It’s sad that we have the knowledge and technology to save those people, but they still have to die because of the shortage of donated organs, and because of the lack of people who are willing to become an organ donor.
105,000 isn’t a small number, moreover, it does not only represent 105,000 people who are waiting for organ transplants, in fact, it represents 105,000 families including their parents who are needed to be taken care, their spouses, and their children they need to raise. Each of them is followed by a sad story relative to different kind of illnesses.
As of today, although people have already figure out many different medicine to cure diseases which used to be deathly to human, there are still some major diseases that are not curable without organ transplantation. It includes heart failure, terminal lung illnesses, kidney failure, liver failure, some types of diabetes, blindness, valvular disease, severe skin burns, and blood cancer (Organ Retrieval Banking Organisation). Organs which can be donated include heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas, eyes, heart valve, skin, and stem cells. Some of those can be donated when the donor is still alive, but some of those can only be taken out after the donor’s brain is dead. The live kind of organ donation usually occurs between immediate relatives. The reason is quite understandable, since the donors love and care of their families, they are more willing to donate for them. Kathleen Dundee was one of the lucky one. In 2008, her kidneys were completely failed because of multiple myeloma. The only way to get her cured was to have a kidney transplant. It wasn’t easy to find a compatible kidney, and the best chance was from her immediate relatives. All six of her siblings had done the test and only Jimmy, her brother, was her perfect match. She was donated a kidney and bone marrow. And she is now living healthy as a normal person (Organ Donor Awareness). For her brother, there is nothing more important than having his sister back.
Kathleen and her brother have shown us that love is the biggest encouragement to complete organ donation, but it doesn’t mean that it only happens between close relatives. According to the statistic from Donate Life America, there were a total of 14144 organ donors resulting in 28535 organ transplants in 2011 (Donate Life America). Although 6017 of them were living organ donors who might only be helping their own siblings out liked Jimmy did to Kathleen, the remaining 8127 deceased organ donors had shown us that there were people around, through only a small amount, who are willing to give away their organs to people they had never met. What caused those people to be such kind persons was very simple. They simply thought that there was nothing wrong with saving someone’s life (Organ Donor Awareness). And some decedent’s parents might think that their kids will continue to live within the others’ body (Hartman), although the donation organization doesn’t want them to think it that way. Those reasons are quite straight forward and understandable, but what keep people from being a donor are a little more complicated. And there are a lot of misconceptions about it.
One thing that people worry the most for becoming an organ donor is that they believe the hospital staff will not work as hard to save their lives when they are in the emergency room (Mayo Clinic). In fact, there are two individual groups of people working in the emergency room and the transplantation division. The doctors in the emergency room only focus on saving the patient’s life, and they have nothing to do with the patient’s organs even if they can’t save the patient. The transplantation division will step in only if the patient is certified brain death. Moreover, more tests will be done to people who have agreed to donate their organs to determine that they are truly dead than the non organ donors.
Some people may think that their organs are not suitable for transplantation because they are not in the best of health, or some may just think they are too old. Indeed, age isn’t a concern in the organ donation field. A 70 year old man’s kidneys may be in better condition than a 30 year old man’s who drinks alcohol every day. For evidence, there were organs from the 80s year old donors have been successfully transplanted multiple times in the past. The condition of the organ is rated base on strict medical criteria but not age (Mayo Clinic). It’s also based on its suitability. If the organ is suitable for transplantation, even a HIV positive patient can also be an organ donor (Charnow). As long as the organ recipients are also HIV positive, transplanting an organ from another HIV positive donor will hopefully extend their lives to wait for new treatment for the HIV disease.
The doctor will examine the donor’s blood carefully to determine if the organ is suitable to the recipient. Otherwise, organ rejection may occur after the transplantation has taken place. Organ rejection, also called transplant rejection, is a process in which a transplant recipient’s immune system attacks the transplanted organ (The New York Times). Instead of working together with the new organ, the immune system recognizes the new organ as an unfavorable substance. The white blood cells will than attack it. Normally, the recipients will have to take some kind of medicine to suppress their immune systems, and it helps preventing organ rejection quite effectively.
Besides of age and healthiness, there is also an ethical issue that someone has brought up against the people on the waiting list who has been continuously abusing their bodies through excessive drinking, smoking or drugs (Drunk). There was a famous soccer player, George Best, in England. He was known to be an alcoholic that he had to receive a liver transplant to save his life once in 2002. Then, he was caught drinking again in 2003, and he ended up died in 2005. Of course people who donate their organs are hoping to help someone more deserving than the people similar to George Best. Some of the donors may feel very angry when they find out there is no way to prevent their organs going to people who don’t deserve for them, because people on the waiting list are all treated equally. It is for ensuring that rich people will not get a transplant faster than other, but in exchange, some of the organs will need to go to the undesirable person like George Best. It seems like a deal breaker to discourage people to become an organ donor. However, doesn’t it also means that we need more donors so that the people who deserve for a transplant can also get one? It’s not worth to give up the majority of lives that we can save only because a few of the people who don’t deserve for a second chance.
The government should also do some more on educating people about organ donation. By telling people that the doctors in the emergency room will also work as hard as they can to save the donor’s life or showing people how to become one of the organ donors will also help the donation plan succeed, since there are 90% of Americans say they support organ donation (Donate Life America), but 70% of them don’t know the steps to take them to be a donor. In fact, there are a few easy ways to make it happen. There is a check box on the driver’s license application form that you can check it and become an organ donor when you renew your driver’s license. If for any reason you miss that chance while renewing the driver’s license, you can always visit OrganDonor.gov to complete the application (WebMD, LLC). And the last thing is to tell your family that it is your wish, because they will be the persons to help you make the final decision. Becoming an organ donor is easy and it is the most meaningful thing to do. Organ donation doesn’t only mean giving up your organs to the strangers, but it also means a stranger gives up the organs to save your life.
Charnow, Jody A. HIV-Positive Organ Donors for HIV-Positive Recipients: An Interview with Dorry Segev, MD, PhD. 1 October 2011. 29 July 2012 <http://www.renalandurolog...phd/article/214204/>.
Donate Life America. Statistics of Organ Transplant in 2011. 2011. 22 July 2012 <http://donatelife.net/und...onation/statistics/>.
Drunk, Rum-Punch. Do they deserve a second chance? 13 April 2012. 15 July 2012 <http://rumpunchdrunk.blog...deserve-second.html>.
Hartman, Kim I. Four-day-old baby girl becomes youngest organ donor. 9 August 2010. 25 June 2012 <http://digitaljournal.com/article/295769>.
Mayo Clinic. Organ donation: Don't let these myths confuse you. 3 April 2010. 25 June 2012 <http://www.mayoclinic.com...an-donation/FL00077>.
Organ Donor Awareness. True Organ Donor Stories. 4 January 2011. 25 June 2012 <http://organdonorawarenes..._donor_stories.html>.
Organ Retrieval Banking Organisation. 25 June 2012 <http://www.aiims.edu/aiims/orbo/faq.htm#q8>.
The New York Times. Transplant Rejection. 14 June 2011. 25 June 2012 <http://health.nytimes.com...ction/overview.html>.
WebMD, LLC. Organ Donation Facts. 27 August 2010. 25 June 2012 <http://www.webmd.com/a-to...rgan-donation-facts>.
Womes Health. Organ donation and transplantation fact sheet. 17 February 2010. 25 June 2012 <http://womenshealth.gov/p.../organ-donation.cfm>.