Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April is Donate Life Month

I've talked about organ donation on this blog before, but this time it is personal.  I've always been an organ donor.  Whenever I've gone to the DMV, I indicate my intentions on my driver's license.  I've also told my family this fact because if I'm dead, I won't be around to say, "Hey, can you make sure that someone gets my eyes, my liver, my skin or maybe my heart?"

But, according to statistics, not a lot of people are organ donors, especially in Texas, and I'm wondering why?  Does it have to do with the whole, if I bury my head in the sand and not think about death, it won't happen to me mentality? Are people afraid to make that committment because of a superstitious fear that they're inviting the Grim Reaper into their lives by planning for their end of life wishes?  Or do people fear that they won't receive the best care in the emergency room if they're a donor?  I found the following information on the Texas Organ Sharing page to answer some of those fears.

  • Emergency room doctors are there to save lives and will do everything possible to save one’s life.
  • One’s celebrity or financial status does not play a part in the decision. Organs are allocated based on a variety of medical and logistical factors including blood type, size of organ needed, waiting time, distance between donor and recipient, degree of immune system match and medical urgency, among others.
  • All major religions, including Catholicism, support organ and tissue donation as one of the highest expressions of compassion and generosity. Pope Benedict has stated that to give one’s organs means to give expression to a true, deep act of love for one’s neighbor.
  • Donation does not interfere with funeral arrangements. A donor can have an open casket funeral.
  • Anyone can be a potential donor, regardless of age or medical history. The good news is that a single donor can save or improve the lives of more than 50 people.
I know death is a super personal issue, but I'm writing about it because I think it's time we all started thinking and talking about it.  Death and taxes, people.  Which of these inevitable aspects of life would you rather discuss? 

So, here's the dealio.  I'd like for you to be brave and discuss right here on my blog your thoughts about organ donation.  If you don't feel comfortable, simply vote in my poll.  But, I'm hoping we can get a discussion going.  This issue might not be of importance to you right now so you're not thinking about it. But it might be when you least expect it.

I know when we think of charity, we think of dropping a buck or two into the Salvation Army bucket during the holidays or sending a check to our favorite cause, but organ donation is free.  We're all going to die at some point, so why not give the ultimate gift of life?



  1. My mother died really suddenly of a brain aneurysm, and she was perfectly healthy otherwise. She had not elected to be an organ donor, and my distraught father had no idea what her wishes may have been, so he didn't agree to donate her organs when the doctors were about to "pull the plug." That really saddened me, but I didn't feel it was the time to argue, exactly. So my husband and I made sure to officially say that we are organ donors. Being an organ donor makes me feel a lot BETTER about dying.

  2. I've had the Donor sticker on my driver's license since the 70's. I figure if I don't have a need for it anymore someone might as well benefit. What a great way to 'live on' and help people. I personally don't believe that my spirit is attached to my organs anyway. Last time I looked at an Xray I didn't see my soul.

  3. What's the saying, you can't take it with you? I wholeheartedly agree that our soul doesn't reside in our bodies.

    And yes, Lauren, being a donor does make a person feel better about dying.

  4. I wonder if, for some, it's similar to the distaste people have for autopsies and such being done to their loved ones after their death. Maybe the idea of "harvesting" organs from their dearly departed is distasteful.

    When my father passed away (unexpectedly at 36 yrs.) my mom took a lot of flak from the family because she insisted on an autopsy. I'm glad she did--they found a congenital condition that I have since been diagnosed with and that I had to have surgery to correct (somewhat).

  5. Your comment Shedrick made me think of Jessica Mitford's exploration of the funeral industry that caused such a stir. In it, she described what actually happens to a person's body when it is prepped for burial. Not only did this book anger many in the funeral industry, but I think it grossed people out. Some stranger is going to be touching them, applying makeup, doing their hair, super gluing things shut, cutting them open, draining their blood,etc. All of this happens so that we can look at the deceased for one last time.
    In your case, your mother's wish for an autopsy lead to a better quality of life for her son. It seems perfectly logical to me. I'm glad she made it.


Comments are welcome and appreciated!