Image from Donate4Life
I am very passionate on the subject of organ donation. I lost my grandfather in November some years ago when his donated heart “rejected” his body. He lived for 18 years with his donated heart. That amount of time was an awesome and surprising length for a donated organ. My grandfather would not have seen a majority of his great grandchildren born. He would have missed out on many opportunities in his life. My grandfather was two weeks away from death when he was called in for his heart.
He would have missed my high school graduation. My favorite memory from my graduation was my grandfather, smiling at me, so overjoyed to be alive to see my diploma handed to me.
I am always disheartened and highly frustrated when people come back to me about the many urban legends and misconceptions surrounding organ donating. Today, I want to touch on some highly circulated myths surrounding organ donating.
1. Organ donors are at risk of malpractice in order to harvest organs. WRONG. The medical team will not stop and check your wishes after your death while saving your life. Doctors and staff are dedicated to save your life. It is not a trade off. (Source: Mayo Clinic)
2. You can’t have an open casket funeral if you donate organs. The body is covered with clothing and there will be no visible scarring. In the case of skin donation, staff will use an area, such as the back, a non-visible area. The body will cosmetically be treated to prevent any signs of donation. Highly skilled professionals will tend to the needs of the deceased to help their loved ones find the proper closure. (Source: Mayo Clinic and Donate4Life)
3. I can’t due to religion. A majority of religions either support or have no say against organ donation. TransWeb.org has a dedicated page for religious standing on the subject.
4. I am too sick/old/young to donate. Many organs are still viable and able to be given to a recipient. The medical field is evolving, and such conditions like diabetes will not cause an organ to be rejected. Age is not a barrier as well. For persons under the age of 18, legal guardians can authorize organ donation wishes. (Sources: Mayo Clinic and TransWeb)
5. My family will have to shoulder the fiscal burden of organ donation. The transplant family is financially obligated, NOT the donor family! (Source: Mayo Clinic)
6. Noting I am an organ donor on my driver’s license will suffice. I cannot stress this enough. Make it clear to your family, and sign up on the organ donor registry. It is important that you let your family know your wishes. (Source: UNOS.org)
Organ donation saves lives. According to OrganDonor.gov:
- Just one organ donor can save up to 8 lives
- Each day, 18 people die, waiting for an organ
- There are enough people on the waiting list to fill up two football stadiums
Talk to your family. Research it. Speak to the families. Come to me about any questions. Become a hero and register to donate your organs.