Source: The Morning Sun
Organ donations are priceless gifts
Published: Monday, April 26, 2010
To put it bluntly, there's a shortage of donated organs for people who badly need them. Their lives literally depend up on them
Waiting for an organ to become available is fatal to thousands of people a year in this country. And the shortage persists despite our best efforts to persuade people to give the gift of life - to state our willingness to donate an organ upon our death or give a kidney to a loved one or a friend.
The need is year-round, but April provides us with another opportunity to use our powers of persuasion, however insufficient. The Kidney Foundation of Michigan has declared it's National Donate Life Month. The foundation is urging us to become organ donors by signing up on the Michigan Organ Donor Registry.
The lag between supply and demand is understandably discouraging to both those who need the organs and their families, as well as those in the general public who support the donation program. About 3,000 people in Michigan are waiting for an organ transplant. Nationwide, the number is more than 100,000. The foundation tells us that an average of 77 people in the nation receive a transplant each day - but 18 a day die while waiting.
It's possible to fault the ways in which we sign up donors and allocate their organs to those in need. The process is voluntary for living donors and for relatives of the just deceased. There may be better ways. But for now, the voluntary system is what we've got. It urges adults to list their name on a state registry operated by the Gift of Life, and to signal willingness to be a donor on the Michigan driver license.
Those who sign up for the donor registry receive a donor symbol - a red heart that is placed on the front of their driver's license or state ID card. Individuals willing to donate upon their death need to discuss their decision with family members. It's a very emotional topic and one that does deserve attention. Even though signing up with the Donor Registry is legally binding and cannot be overruled by family members, being sensitive to the concerns and the emotional stress it may cause is critical to your own and your loved ones ultimate peace of mind.
Organ donations are supported by most major religions. There is no charge to a family. Also, organ donation should not get in the way of funeral arrangements or change the body's appearance.
Routine organ transplants are about a half century old. In that time, transplants that would have meant certain death now mean a reasonably long life. And the gift has an amazingly wide range. One individual's organs can benefit as many as 50 people, helping them to see, to move and to live.
Many of us in Michigan have already signaled our willingness to donate their organs. But many have not. There are numerous ways to leave a legacy but there is none better than through organ donations. Those who have not yet signed up should ask themselves one question: "Would I be willing to accept someone else's organ if it would save my life?" If the answer is yes, isn't the next step perfectly clear?