Thoughts on Organ and Tissue Donation

On Monday or Tuesday, someone is going to die.

A man, a woman, older or younger, black, white, Asian, Christian, Jew, Atheist, Gay, Straight…. someone will be lost.. Thanks to a 10 second investment, signing a donor card or answering a donation question, an eye will be harvested, sent to an eye bank and the corneal tissue delivered to Dr. Holland. The unselfish act of a total stranger will give me better vision, someone else life with a kidney, another dying person a heart or lung, perhaps.

I think that, if you are healthy and have not signed an organ donor card, you are committing a selfish act.

I was surprised to learn that 95% of Americans “support” organ donation, while only 38% are registered organ donors? I think it’s probably a combination of laziness, ignorance, paranoia and anti-scientific leanings. But mostly I think it’s the ridiculous opt-in system that we use in the US right now.

If you believe in heaven – donating your viable organs will look very good on your resume at the pearly gates check-in queue.

How many people die because people, rather than having some deep philosophical misgivings, simply forgot to sign their card? I’m a major advocate for opt-out organ donation nationwide and presumed consent.

Presumed consent, advocates argue, combines the principles of supply-side efficiency, respect for individual conscience, and individual’s positive, yet qualified, duty to promote the good of society.
-Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network

If someone is bothered by the donation of their organs, let them do the work of un-registering themselves. During that process, they will take an internal ethical journey, at each step justifying their position. I think many would reconsider after reflection.

More than 100,000 people are currently waiting for organ transplants, and close to 20 die each day because of organ shortages.
– National Institutes of Health

I’m also an advocate for preference of donors in receipt of organs/tissue should they need it. Excepting those with health issues that prevents donation, I think that when there are two people with equal need for a given organ, preference should be given to the one who has signed their donor card, such as it is in Israel

All major religions in the United States support organ, eye and tissue donation and see it as the final act of love and generosity toward others.

USA Resources:
Created and maintained by Donate Life America, contains important facts and information about donation and transplantation as well as details on how to become a registered organ, eye and tissue donors in each state.
Donate Life America’s Spanish web site, contains facts and information about donation and transplantation and addresses concerns that are specific to the Hispanic community. It also details how to become a registered organ, eye and tissue donor in each state.
Created and maintained by United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), is the organ transplantation information resource for medical professionals and the general public. UNOS brings together medicine, science, public policy and technology to facilitate every organ transplant performed in the United States.
Created and maintained by UNOS the site contains in depth national, regional, and state donation and transplantation data.
Created and maintained by UNOS, the Transplant Living Web site is the definitive information and education resource for transplant patients and their families.
The oldest transplant association in the United States, the EBAA is a nationally recognized accrediting body for eye banks.
The American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) is a professional, non-profit, scientific and educational organization. It is the only national tissue banking organization in the United States, and its membership totals more than 100 accredited tissue banks and 1,000 individual members.
The Association of Organ Procurement Organizations (AOPO) is the non-profit organization recognized as the national representative of fifty-eight federally-designated organ procurement organizations, serving more than 300 million Americans.

Interactive Body (opens in new window.)

I am seeking the source of the terrific illustration above so I can provide credit. Is it your illustration? Please email me so I can attribute it.

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0 Replies to “Thoughts on Organ and Tissue Donation”

  1. Scott,
    Your introspective thoughts are very simular to my own, especially before each transplant attempt. I hope that many people are educated by your informative post of your thoughts on organ and tissue donation.
    I was wondering how you are able to finance your current DALK proceedure (health insurance, personal savings, credit, loans?) Even organ and tissue donation is not without significant financial cost.

    1. Personal savings + Insurance. I am very fortunate.

      Thank you for the kind words. Watch for this site to receive many posts this week, as I’m heading in Wednesday.

  2. I had The same thoughts you had before my surgery. I had a DALK this past May 24 in Miami and I couldnt stop thinking un that person that was going to die.
    I’ll ve forever grateful to that guy and to live in general. I’m from Ecuador (south América) and I had the oportunity to fly to Florida and havd a DALK. Here in my country my doctor said that a would need a PK, that was the only option.

    I’m getting better with every day, but i still have that milky vision. I hope your recovery is going well

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