Donate Life Month: Where are your organs going when you’re finished with them?

Posted on April 7, 2017 by kerri
Organ donation is something I have felt strongly about for as long as I can remember. Even before I had other need to wear medical ID jewelry, I had a tag that simply read organ donor. Now, organ donor remains on my medical ID bracelets, alongside asthma and my emergency contact information.
Organ donation is a subject that comes up frequently on the Identity Doctor blog, because it is such an easy choice that just about everybody can make—I want to do what I can, and what WE can, at My Identity Doctor, to ensure that people have the discussion about organ donation with their families: the final choice about organ donation is left to your family, so simply having an organ donor medical ID tag is a great step but needs to be partnered with a discussion!
[source: https://xkcd.com/659/]
The facts about organ donation:
  • A relatively small number of deaths enable someone to be a candidate as an organ donor. Brain death must have occurred, and the individual must be on life support to preserve organ function.
  • People of all ages can be organ donors—from infants to the elderly. Organs will grow with young recipients, and organs from older donors can continue to do their job for decades when transplanted in a younger person! [1]
  • Living donors are able to donate not only blood, bone marrow, kidneys and part of their liver, but also parts of their lung or intestine if they are healthy.
  • All major religions support the choice of organ donation. [1] If you believe your religious affiliation may prevent you from donating, speak with a spiritual leader for personal guidance.
  • In some situations, people may not be eligible organ donors, however, some body tissues, or parts of the eye like the cornea, may be able to be donated to improve a person’s life!
  • If you are an organ donor, it WILL NOT impact the care you receive at the end of your life. In order for your organs to be usable, life-support must be provided to preserve organ function and brain-death must have occurred. You will be treated just as well as a donor as you would in any other situation!
Many different conditions are treated with organ transplant: the conditions that can benefit form transplant are too numerous to list. In the United States, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) 118,423 patients are awaiting life-saving organ transplant [1] . I currently have a friend who is on the list waiting for a heart transplant after living for nearly three decades with a congenital heart defect, and another friend who is waiting to be listed for a lung transplant after living with severe asthma that has, over the course of 60 years, destroyed his lungs. You can learn more about Stephen and his transplant journey here.
Choosing to donate organs is a personal decision, and while I’m usually pretty good at providing the facts, organ donation is a subject that I give a pretty one-sided opinion on! You don’t need your organs once you’re gone—but people waiting for transplant certainly do!

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