One of the easiest ways to save a life is simply to check the "opt-in" button as an organ donor when getting your license/ID at the Motor Vehicle Division or by registering online at DonateLifeAZ.org. Organ donation is such a wonderful way to help save a life of another, once yours or a loved one's has ended. It is a beautiful gift for one to leave behind: a legacy of lifesaving generosity. Organ donation is a field which combines high-tech elements with the continuously improving knowledge on various medical advancements in order to successfully save the lives of millions of individuals suffering from an array of medical problems, some even life-threatening, through organ transplants.
Though this process is one that can help so many people, making seems almost like an "obvious" choice, it is often one that is thought about and considered during one of the hardest times of an individual's life -- a death of their loved one. In Arizona, the sole, federally designated, nonprofit organ procurement organization is the Donor Network of Arizona (DNA). Understanding that this is a difficult time for families, this organization strives to work in a way that balances outstanding medical knowledge with compassion for families.
The mission of the Donor Network of Arizona is stated as "we make the most of life through the gift of organ and tissue donation." According to the DNA website, one organ donor has the potential to save eight lives; eight individuals could be helped by one's life-saving decision to simply "click yes" on becoming an organ donor. This past year in Arizona, 283 donors saved the lives of 779 individuals. Organs that can be donated include the heart, lungs, small intestines, liver, kidney, pancreas, as well as, different components of one's eye and other skin tissues. These organ transplants offer healing and a second chance at life for many individuals; unfortunately, one problem with organ donation is that a lot of people do not even qualify to be a donor. In order to qualify one must die in a pretty specific way -- usually due to neurological injuries or deaths that do not cause severe damage to the internal organs.
However, with increasing medical knowledge comes improvements in organ donation and it is becoming easier to improve and prolong the use of slightly damaged organs. Another problem arising with organ donation is the preservation time of the various organs; organ donations are done regionally because most organs would not survive the trip from Arizona to New York. For example, heart and lung donations only last about 4 to 6 hours before it becomes no longer viable for transplant and eye donations must be procured within 24 hours of one's death. Due to this short time preservation for various organs, it results in a difficult conversation being had very soon after the death of a loved one is declared.
Organ donation is truly a beautiful way to give someone else the gift of life, by allowing them to have a piece of your legacy after death. Signing up to be an organ donor is such an easy process and one that could have several life-saving outcomes. The Donor Network of Arizona works diligently and compassionately with families whose loved one is an organ donor, or who are considering donating. DNA works with and supports families of organ donors up to 2 years after procurement as a follow-up procedure through letters of thanks and acknowledgment. With a simple click of a button at the MVD or by signing up online, one can become an organ donor, making the decision to potentially save the lives of others after one's own life has come to an end. A truly honorable and generous decision, one that I encourage everyone to strongly consider.