Organ Donation is that topic that came up when you got your drivers license – you know the one? Maybe you even saw it on a few advert breaks a couple of weeks ago. But for most of us, it remains largely irrelevant to our lives… if we’re lucky.
I’ll be the first to admit it, organ donation was always irrelevant to my life. By God’s grace, I’ve been blessed with a healthy body, no organ failure or childhood cancers, so the topic of organ donation seldom came up. Until one time in medical school.
We were told the statistics of how 3 people die every day while waiting for a transplant. How black and Asian people are most likely to need a kidney transplant but also least likely to give one. We were told that on average, black and Asain people wait up to 1 year longer than white people while waiting.
I was shocked by how blissfully I had ignored the urgent need for donors all my life. I was saddened that I was not alone in this, and that fact was reflected in the pitiful black and Asian community statistics. So I decided to make it my business to start the conversation before it was too late. Do you have a moment to save lives?
If so, keep reading.
Let’s start with the basics.
What is organ donation?
Organ donation is basically giving an organ to help someone who needs a transplant.
There are three types of donation –
- Living – where the donor gives someone a kidney, small section of the liver or part of a bone while still live and kickin’
- Brain Death – where the donor gives an organ after they are certified as brain dead – that is, they have permanently lost the potential to be conscious or able to breathe
- Circulatory Death – the donors heart has stopped beating irreversibly.
All pretty dark and unpleasant, right?
… but also no. Not really..
We can’t stop death altogether with medicine. Sure – we can delay it, prevent it and make it more comfortable, but the fact remains that we will all one day leave these bodies.
What organ donations offers is a light at the end of life. I mean, think about it – the ability to use the gift of our bodies to save the life of another human from beyond the grave? Wow. That is one of the most powerful legacies I can imagine.
Organ donation isn’t all about death. It’s about life and power and choice.
But Organ donation doesn’t just happen with the wave of a wand. It’s a process. Not everyone passes in a way that enables them to be able to give their organs to someone else. And when someone does pass in a suitable matter, there’s a delicate process of matching them with the right recipient. Then there’s the consent – discussing with the family of the donor as to whether they would be happy for their loved ones organs to be used to save the life of another.
This is why we need to talk about organ donation. We can’t sit by and wait for life to happen then be shocked and horrified when in 10 years, the statistics remain unchanged.
We need to act and we need to act now.
Do you know your views on organ donation? Do you family know your views?
I invite you to talk to a loved one today. Share your views on organ donation.
One conversation could save a life.
Dr Sara Sienna