November 18, 2010
There is not a cure for cancer. There is not a cure for diabetes, asthma or AIDS.
There is, however, a cure for a failing organ, and that is only through another human being. There are nearly 105,000 people currently on the waiting list for a donor willing enough to give up an organ after death.
Every day, about 18 of the people on the waiting list die because of the lack of donors. In this year alone 14,000 people have been added to the waiting list, and only half of that number has been added to the list of donors. The numbers are lacking and people are dying from it. There are very few criteria a person must meet to become a donor.
Age is not a factor for organ donors, and as long as the person does not have any kind of systematic infection, that person can be eligible for donation. Education student Jenny Sharp has had family members in need of an organ donation, and has become interested in the subject because of her father’s career in organ donation coordinating.
“I’m for organ donation because it saves peoples’ lives, and when people die they don’t need their organs anymore, so why not help someone in need?” said Sharp.
There are some common myths related to organ donation such as its effect on the choice of having an open casket. Some believe that donating an organ can cause alteration to the human body.
“Whatever is taken out of the body is filled with something else, so when the body is viewed it looks perfectly normal,” Sharp said. “Sometimes the filling can be made out of foam or stuffing, or something like that. They [the organ transplant team] do as they see fit. Sometimes they do not have to add anything after the donation because there is no trace of the donation.”
Another myth people believe is that if a person drinks or smokes, that person is unqualified to give an organ. As long as an alcoholic does not donate their liver and a smoker does not donate a lung, they can be just as available for donation as a person who has never touched a pack of cigarettes or bottle of liquor.
“Some people believe that if they have smoked then they can’t donate an organ, but that’s not true,” Sharp said. “They just can’t donate a lung because it does not affect another organ’s ability to be donated.”
Though a lot of these myths can be counter-acted by experts, there are still a lot of people who disagree with the whole practice. Oklahoma Baptist student from Missouri, Kirk Tinsley, believes organ donation is not beneficial enough to outweigh the complications it presents.
“There is only 1 surgical donation team on call in Missouri at a time. Their extended response time causes the organs to not be viable once they are able to extract them,” said Tinsley.
The family needs’ must be considered as well in the untimely event such as death.
“It [donation] extends the duration of time the family must wait to view the body and truly begin the grieving process,” said Tinsley.
Because of the controversy organ donation can create, the lack of donators is continuing to grow in the United States. Every 90 minutes someone dies from the lack of a proper donor. These people are loved ones and have the potential to live a life not guaranteed to them at birth. Organ donation has the potential to create life after death.