This is about the importance of organ donation and a personal story to go along with it.
| Nine out of ten people when asked the simple question, "Would you rather save a life, or lose a life?" answer to "save a life." Not many people can say that they helped save a life. However, if an opportunity presented itself would they say yes or no? I believe that everyone should be an organ donor because organ donation saves and enhances the lives of many patients. Without organ donation, I would not be in my first year of college. In fact, I would never have gone to kindergarten.
Organ donations typically occur when a donor with healthy organs is pronounced brain dead donates their organs, often to save multiple lives. For many people at end-stage organ failure, an organ transplant is their only hope for survival. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, there are currently 118,580 candidates in the U.S. on the waiting list, and an average of 22 people on the waiting list who die everyday waiting for their life-saving transplant. The number of donations needed surpasses the number of donors and organs available.
Many people do not register to become a donor because they are not properly educated about organ donation or cannot be bothered to simply check the box when they are at the DMV. What many people do not realize is that not registering to become a donor does not mean their organs will not be donated. All the individual is saying is that if they become brain dead, the decision of donation will be left to their next of kin. However, if you do not tell your next of kin what you wish to happen to your body when you die they might not want to donate your organs because they will want to leave you untouched. When the decision is being made, it is during a very sad and morbid time that might prevent the kin from making the right decision to donate the organs.
Organ donation is important to me is because ten days before my first birthday I received a lifesaving liver transplant.
When I was four months old I was diagnosed with a disease called tyrosenemia, which caused my liver to become cirrhosised and enlarged. At my four-month-old checkup my doctor noticed that my abdominal region was distended. After a few doctors in her practice checked me out, they referred me to a specialist. This quick decision saved my life.
The doctors sent me to a hematologist, a blood doctor, who found nothing wrong, so she sent me to a gastroenterologist, a digestion and liver doctor. After more tests, my parents were told that I had minimal liver function and should be admitted to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia right away. For 14 days, all kinds of tests were run on me, but none were conclusive.
Midway through the second week my parents were introduced to the transplant team as a "preliminary meeting." It was explained that I was in liver failure and they running diagnostic testing; testing for disease in other organs began. In other words, was there a disease in my body that would attack the new liver? I had an MRI and a brain scan; if either test showed any disease, there would be no chance for transplantation. The next day my parents received great news. Both tests were negative, and I was diagnosed with tyrosenemia. Tyrosenemia is a rare disease, and given my state a transplant was the only cure. The doctors added my name to the waiting list.
Tyrosenemia is a very aggressive disease that would likely cause liver cancer between my second and third birthday. Getting a liver quickly was a concern for my parents.
On October 22, 1998, the doctors called and said that there might be a liver for me. My mom brought me to the hospital, and there was a liver. A couple minutes past midnight they wheeled me into the operating room. My first year and half of life included over three months in the hospital and over four weeks in the pediatric ICU.
I respect everyone's freedom to make their own choice about donation, and I understand that the people who are not organ donors have their reasons. However, a lot of people's concerns stem from lack of education or incorrect information. A common concern is that medical personnel will not try to save them if they know they are a donor, and instead let them die so that they can save multiple people's lives. Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath, which says that they will act ethically. Also, the only way to become a donor is to be brain dead. If the heart stops pumping blood through the body, then the organs are no longer viable for transplantation.
Another common concern is whether one's religion supports organ donation. Most religions see organ donation as giving a gift and partaking in a beautiful act of kindness. Yet another concern is how organ donation will affect the funeral. The service will be pushed back a few hours, and the family's wishes will be respected. The family can still have an open casket funeral, and no one would able to tell if they were a donor by simply looking.
As you can see, the concerns above are not valid reasons to not become a donor. Donors are well treated and save a life. My biggest push for organ donation is that it gives you the opportunity to continue to help people, while you no longer physically can.
Saying yes to organ donation is like saying yes to giving the leftover food from your lunch that you are about to throw away. Throwing away the good and unused food from your lunch is like selfishly taking your organs to the grave with you. When you are buried with your healthy organs, which cannot do anything to help you since you are already dead. You are denying up to eight people the chance to live. Taking your organs to the grave with you is just as wasteful as throwing them away in the trash can. You get to decide where your organs go. Whether they go in the trash or towards saving lives.
I am a liver transplant recipient, which is not something everyone gets to say. I take a lot of pride in this. Although sadly someone's life was taken away far too early, several lives were saved, which is something that I am very grateful for and will be for the rest of my life. Because of my donor, I am alive. Since my donor is no longer with us, I believe it is very important for me to raise awareness on the impact of organ and tissue donation. I am a living example of what organ donation can do. You can choose to take your organs to the grave with you, where they won't be helping anyone, or donate them to people in need and save lives.