Organ & Tissue Donation
On their website dedicated to organ and tissue donation, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services shares, "Each day, about 79 people receive organ transplants. However, 18 people die each day waiting for transplants that can't take place because of the shortage of donated organs."
Fortunately, you can do something to positively change those numbers simply by electing to become an organ and tissue donor. The website also declares that 100 million people in the United States have signed up to be a donor but with a population of more than 317 million people, that's less than 1/3 involved in organ and tissue donation.
What's stopping others from getting involved? Age for one; children under the age of 18 cannot become a donor without permission from the parent or guardian. Also, there's a lot of confusion around the subject of organ and tissue donation.
The staff of the Mayo Clinic, in the article, "Organ Donation: Don't Let These Myths Confuse You," writes very persuasively about the myths that commonly prevent people from committing.
If I agree to donate my organs, the hospital staff won't work very hard to save my life. Not true; your doctors will focus on saving your life, and only yours until that point there is nothing more they can do for you. Then their focus will shift.
Organ donation violates my religious beliefs. The act of donating your organs is consistent with the beliefs of most major religions. However, if you're unsure of your faith's perception on donation, speak with a member of your clergy.
I'm under the age of 18; I'm too young to make this decision. Yes, legally you are too young. However, your parent or guardian can provide consent.
I can't have an open-casket funeral if I've donated organs or tissues. This is simply not true; as you will be fully-clothed, there will be no visible signs of donation-related activity.
No one would want my organs. If you think you're too old to donate, you'll be happy to know there is no defined cut-off age for donors. Even if you're not in the best of health, there is no way to predict exactly what organs or tissues would be of use at the time of your death.
My family will be charged money if I donate organs or tissues. This is, in effect, never true. The cost of organ removal is paid by the transplant recipient; never by the donor's family.
How to Become an Organ Donor
There's nothing difficult about becoming an organ and tissue donor. You can register online with the Organ and Tissue Donor Registry in your state. Locate the information you need on the "State Organ and Tissue Donor Registries" page within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website. It only takes about five minutes to complete your online registration. Other ways you can declare your intention to become an organ donor include:
Noting your decision on your driver's license
Informing your family about your decision to become an organ and tissue donor
Including your intention to donate your organs in your advance care directive
Organ Donation is Compassion in Action
The legendary Albert Schweitzer said, "The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others." By becoming an organ and tissue donor, you will be following in the footsteps of over 100 million people, all of whom have realized the quiet joy within this generous action. If you'd like to learn more about how organ and tissue donation impacts future funeral arrangement decisions, call our office at (440) 942-0700.
Schlesinger, Robert, "The 2014 U.S. and World Populations", USNews, December 31, 2013.