Insightsthe blog of Porter Hills
Organ donation is a personal decision that should be carefully thought out and discussed with your loved ones. It is important to be informed and allow yourself time to make the decision that is right for you and your family. Choosing to be an organ donor is a decision that can affect the entire family so you want to make sure you are taking their feelings into consideration while letting your wishes be known. Having this open discussion can be difficult and whatever choice is made will allow your family to know what you truly desire.
There are many reasons to consider being a donor. First and foremost, donating organs saves lives. If you have ever known someone who has received an organ you have experienced what an incredible gift this is. A single donor may touch the lives of up to 50 people. Many donors have a sense of pride knowing that their organs will help sustain the life of someone else and that their memory will live on in the grateful recipient.
It is understandable that many individuals and families don’t want their loved ones to become organ donors because they are afraid that it will affect their medical treatment. It is a common misconception that doctors and surgeons might not be as proactive to save a patient when they discover that they are a donor. However, to the medical team, no one life is more important than another and they are focused on saving the person in front of them. The medical team trying to save your life is independent of the transplant team.
Many individuals are concerned that they, or their family, will need to fund the cost of the operation used to remove the organs. The truth is that your family pays for your medical care and funeral costs, but not for organ donation. Costs related to donation are paid by the recipient, usually through insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.
Facts to Facilitate Discussions
- You can donate organs at any age.
- The donor family does not bear the cost of the surgery.
- Around 90,000 people are waiting for organ donations every month, and roughly 20 people a month die who could otherwise have been saved by available organs.
- Organs which can be donated include: kidneys, lungs, heart, skin, pancreas liver, eyes and intestines.
- Tissue which can be donated includes: cornea (eye), skin, heart valves, bone, blood vessels, and connective tissue.
- Around 95% of eye donations enable the receiver to see again.
- There are few absolute exclusions (such as HIV infection, active cancer, systemic infection).
- Doctors will examine your organs and determine whether they are suitable for donation if the situation arises.
- More than 99 million individuals in the U.S. are 50 years of age and over. If the majority of people in this age group signed up to be organ donors, imagine how many more lives could be saved.
- Most major religions in the United States support organ donation and consider donation as the final act of love and generosity toward others.
- When matching donor organs to recipients, the computerized matching system considers issues such as the severity of illness, blood type, time spent waiting, other important medical information, and geographic location. The recipient’s financial or celebrity status or race does not figure in.
- An open casket funeral is usually possible for organ, eye, and tissue donors. Through the entire donation process, the body is treated with care, respect, and dignity.
- Approximately 300 new transplant candidates are added to the waiting list each month, representing both genders and every race and age group.
Matching Donor Organs with Transplant Candidates
When a deceased organ donor is identified, a transplant coordinator from an organ procurement organization accesses medical information about the donor. A system is used to match the medical characteristics of the candidates waiting against those of the donor.
- tissue match
- blood type
- length of time on the waiting list
- immune status
- distance between the potential recipient and the donor
- size of the donor organ in relation to the recipient
- degree of medical urgency
Ask Your Doctor