Recently, I became an organ donor, and I was shocked at how easy it was. All I had to do was make a check mark on a form at the DMV. The simplicity of a decision that could potentially save the life of another human being is outstanding. Do you want to know what shocked me even more, though?
The deficiency of organ donors. According to Donate Life America, 90% of Americans say they support organ donation, but only 30% have taken the steps to become one. I constantly see people sharing and praising stories of kids given a second chance at life due to organ donations.
If so many people share these articles and pride themselves on being empathetic and wanting to help others, why do we have such a shortage of organ donors?
Don't take my word for it, let's look at the stats.
According to U.S. Department of Health and Human services, there are 121,347 people waiting for organs, 121,347 families that are counting the days. Standing by the phone in hopes of it ringing. Yet, in the past year, there were only 28,000 organ transplants and currently, there were only 15,000 new donors from the past.
If that's not enough to open up your eyes, just know that every 10 minutes, a name is added to that list. While an average of 79 people receives organ transplants a day, 22 people die waiting for an organ that never comes, 22 people don't get a second chance at life.
These statistics might only sound like a bunch of numbers I am spewing at you but let me put them into perspective. Every single one of those 22 people that die every day is a mom, a teacher, a doctor, a third-grader, a lover, a human. They are not just a number. Every single one of them has a family, has goals, has feelings and has lost a chance.
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Why shouldn't you be an organ donor?
1. I want to have an open-casket funeral, and I can't if organ donation mutilates my body.
Actually, organ donation doesn't impede you from having an open-casket funeral. Your organs/tissues are removed through a clean surgical procedure, and you are sewn back up. After your body is clothed for the ceremony, there are no signs of organ donation. Even if you decide to donate your bones, rods are inserted into their place.
2. If doctors know that I am an organ donor, they won't try to save my life as hard.
This is absolutely ridiculous. A doctor's top priority will always be the life of their patient. They will put in 110% their effort to keep you alive. The donor program isn't even notified until death is proven and declared.
3. Doctors might not be 100% sure that I am dead.
According to the Center for Organ Recovery and Education (CORE), brain death is pronounced when there is a lack of blood and oxygen flow to the brain. It is "the medical, legal and moral determination of death." There is no recovery from this. It is not the same as a coma. Furthermore, organ donors are actually given more tests after death over a period of time to verify death than a normal person.
4. I'm too sick for organ donation. My organs wouldn't be useful.
Don't pre-disqualify yourself. Doctors have tests they run to make sure the organs they utilize are safe and healthy. While some of your organs might not meet these standards, others could.
5. My family would be charged with the costs of the organ transplant.
Your family would only have to pay for the medical costs associated with any procedure done before your death. Organ donation costs are fully covered.
6. Organ donation is against my religion.
Actually, according to CORE, all major religions view organ donation as a final act of love through sacrifice.
7. I don't want my organs going to somebody that destroyed their own.
While organ donations do help people suffering from addiction by letting them correct their mistakes, "less than 5% of people awaiting transplant have destroyed their organ through substance abuse and they must achieve and sustain sobriety before they can be listed for transplant (Center for Organ Recovery and Education)."
If all these reasons are still not enough to convince you to make this decision, know this:
By becoming an organ donor, you could save the life of not just one person but of 50. You could be the reason a father is able to dance with his daughter at her wedding. You could be the reason a 7-year-old girl is able to see the colors of a sprouting bundle of flowers on a fresh spring day.
You could be the reason a mom is writing out invitations for her son's eighth birthday party instead of making funeral arrangements. You could be the reason that the newly married couple ends up sitting around a fire on Christmas morning with their six grandchildren.
You could be the reason love strengthens, new life is born, accomplishments are made and society improves. If anything, you could be the hope restored in the broken hearts and minds of the family and person receiving that organ. You could be that second chance, that silver lining, that miracle.
We glorify the idea of a miracle but here we have the opportunity to make them actually happen. All this can be done by you simply taking an hour of your time to visit this website and take the steps necessary to register as a donor. If you live in New York State, you can register online right now, right here.
Save a life.