What a great topic this is! As medical professionals, we probably don’t spend enough time talking about the value of being a donor – whether it be blood, organ, or other.
Q; “Because I am the recipient of a donated organ, I’d like to see you cover the importance of organ donation.”
A: Certainly organ donation is critical and life-altering to those in need of an organ, be it a kidney, heart, lung or cornea!
There are two main types of organ donation – one is a living donor donation (like donating one of your two kidneys, a portion of your liver or some of your bone marrow) and the other is if you are “brain-dead” as a result of an injury or medical problem. I will discuss the latter.
It’s relatively easy to become a potential organ donor. First, you have to register to be a donor – when you receive your driver’s license you can indicate that you want to be an organ donor.
Second, and most difficult, you would have to die in such a way that your organs could be used – generally speaking, this involves an accident or cerebral aneurysm that causes your brain not to function, but your organs are kept functioning via ventilator, etc.
Most willing organ donors are never used as a donor because the circumstances of their death does not allow them to be a donor.
If you want to possibly be an organ donor, in addition to registering, I also recommend discussing your views on organ donation with your family members so that if the situation would ever arise that you could be a donor, your family would know what you wanted as you would not be able to communicate your desires at that time.
I think that there is a fear among some people that if you are willing to be an organ donor, that you would not receive care that could make you whole and that your body would be harvested for its organs. I have to tell you that is NOT the case in the United States.
The US medical profession does what we can to help anyone become whole again or recover as much as possible. Only if and when your brain function stops and there is no hope of recovery and the brain death is confirmed, would you ever be a candidate for organ donation. The more people that are potential donors increases the potential number of individuals that can be helped when unfortunate events occur. Even if you are never an organ donor, you can still help… by donating blood!