The human body is composed of a number of organs designed to promote good health and optimal growth.
In most cases, these organs are designed to last a lifetime. Unfortunately, certain conditions, disease states, or acute injuries can result in severe organ damage, thus limiting their ability to function normally. In these cases, individuals often rely on the use of organ donation to prevent illness or possible death.
Organ donation is traditionally defined as the process by which healthy, functional tissues are removed from a living or deceased donor and transplanted into the body of a recipient for the process of promoting life. While there is no question that organ donation is a wonderful gift, individuals who are considering contributing one or more of their organs should keep certain considerations in mind before making a final decision.
The demand for donated organs is staggeringly high. In fact, at the date of publication of this article, there were more than 50,000 individuals living around the United States actively waiting for organ transplant. Unfortunately, not all individuals receive transplantation in time—in fact, some estimates suggest that approximately eight people die each day due to the lack of a suitable organ.
As the number of individuals living with chronic conditions continues to grow, demands for organ transplantation are expected to climb to previously unforeseen levels.
There are a number of organs presently accepted for donation both in the United States and abroad. While kidney transplants are currently the most common type of organ transplantation in existence, heart, lung, eye, and even skin transplants are also increasing in popularity. Other organs that are expected to grow in demand in the future include liver, pancreas, bone, and corneas.
With technological advancements, transplants that were once considered to be quite rare—such as total face or limb transplantation—will likely become more and more common.
Becoming an organ donor is considered by many experts to be a relatively simple process. To qualify as an organ donor, individuals must be older than 18 years and complete specialty organ donation cards—which should then be carried in a purse or wallet at all times. After becoming an organ donor, individuals should be sure to talk to friends and family members about their decision. In the event that an organ donation card cannot be located, these individuals may have to vouch for the donor’s wish to provide his or her organs to waiting donors. In some cases, individuals place stickers on their Drivers’ License, car window, or even on the back of watches that indicate their desired to have their organs donated in the event of accidental fatality.
The decision to become an organ donor should not be taken lightly. Before committing to becoming an organ donor, individuals should consider how the decision could affect their medical care, finances, and personal relationships.
Traditionally, hospitals are legally required to provide the same type of medical care to all patients, regardless of their organ donation status. In addition, donating one’s organs is not expected to result in increased expenses for surviving friends or family members.
However, individuals should be aware that parents, friends, siblings, and other family members may have concerns about the decision to become an organ donor. Talking about these concerns and answering questions as they arise is an important process is becoming an organ donor.
Becoming an organ donor can be highly beneficial. In fact, some research suggests that one deceased organ donor can save as many as 50 lives! However, individuals should never feel pressured to become an organ donor if they have questions or hesitations. Working through these reservations with friends and family members can be essential in the decision-making process.
Individuals who are interested in becoming a donor should consider reviewing the following website for more information:
- Organ Donation—Describes the process of organ donation.
- Medline Plus: Organ Donation—Information about the various types of organ donation.
- Organ Donation: Don’t Let These Myths Confuse You—Facts and myths about organ donation.
- Organ Donation and Transplantation Fact Sheet—Facts and figures about organ donation.
- Life Gift—Organ donation information and news.
- Give Hope to Future Generations—Information about the process of organ donation.
- Organ Donation: What is Donated—Facts about donation and organ need.
- Organ Donation: Become a Donor—Tips for individuals interested in becoming an organ donor.
- 25 Facts About Organ Donation and Transplantation—Facts, myths, and trivia about various types of organ donation.
- Transplant/Organ Transplantation News—News in the field of organ transplantation.
- Children’s Organ Transplantation Association—Information on transplantation for children.
- Changes in Controversial Organ Donation Method Stirs Fear—News about technological advancements in the field of organ donation.
- Understanding Donation—Educational materials about the organ donation process.