Although organ donation is vital to our health care system, many individuals still feel unnerved when they first receive the organ donation form. For many, this is when they get their first driver’s license and subsequently with every license renewal thereafter. However, because most individuals are not properly educated on how organ donation works, whom it benefits, what the benefits are, and what the negatives are, many don’t opt-in.
Rather, the form often elicits a passive response of consideration but then gets tossed aside and often forgotten. Namely, this is due to the topic being a tricky one to talk about or consider because of the implications it has. With this said, read on to find out who can donate and what the benefits and negatives of organ donation entail.
Who Is a Good Candidate For Organ Donation
Almost anyone can become an organ donor, but for those who are under the age of eighteen, must have a parent present when giving their permission or else they must have guardian consent. Generally, anyone is a good candidate, permitting that he or she does not have actively spreading cancer, a severe infection, or HIV/AIDS. When going to donate an organ, one must go through a testing and evaluation before getting the green light.
Typically, the donor should have a similar blood type and tissue type, and when possible be an exact match. However, most recipients will receive a special treatment to prevent their body from rejecting the organ, tissue, or donated blood. Organs and tissues that can be donated include the liver, kidney, skin, bone marrow, bone, lungs, intestines, heart, pancreas, heart valves, middle ear, cornea, and connective tissue.
1. Saving lives
There are hundreds of thousands of people who are waiting for an organ donation and one organ donor can end up saving up to eight of these lives as critical organs like the heart, kidneys, and liver can be matched to those in need.
2. It provides family consolation/closure
If an individual passes away unexpectedly or dies out of a tragedy, them being an organ donor can actually provide their family with some closure and consolation. In knowing that your family member or friend has donated a part of themselves to someone else, there can be an understanding that their life was not lost in vain. It also helps connect the family to new individuals who have been saved because of the passing of their loved one.
3. You contribute to medical research opportunities
If for some reason an organ cannot be helpful to someone straight away, the organ or the body can be donated to scientific research. This is especially helpful in understanding rare diseases, genetic conditions, and illnesses that are rarely seen. An organ of someone who has an ailment as such can also help others who are suffering from the same condition.
4. You Give Someone a Second Chance
Those who are waiting on an organ transplant are often on treatment plans that help them extend their life. These can be costly, require multiple treatments and trips to the doctor and may require them to have constant medical attention. When an organ is donated, you give them a second chance at living a relatively normal life, one that possibly doesn’t have costly procedures and multiple trips to the doctor.
5. You Can Help Someone Right Now
If you are an exact match for someone on the transplant list, you may become a living donor and help them right now. Living donations can be done for portions of the liver, the kidneys, portions of the lung, pancreas, and intestinal tissues. If you would prefer to not donate an organ but still want to be a living donor, choose to donate blood.
1. It Can Extend the Family’s Grieving Period
Unfortunately, for an organ donation to be successful, the family of the organ recipient may need to keep them on extended life support, which can prolong the grieving period. When a family member or friend is kept on life support, it can provide a false sense of hope or presence of life which can make the grieving process stronger and harder to go through. Organs are not donated until an individual has been pronounced as brain dead.
2. Not everyone is an eligible organ donor
Although anyone can go through the process of becoming an organ donor, not everyone will be eligible to provide specific organs as there are age restrictions in place. For instance, someone who wants to donate a heart valve, cannot if they are not younger than sixty years of age. Someone who is over the age of eighty cannot donate their corneas. Individuals who have actively spreading cancer within the past year cannot donate at all, as is the same for those who are HIV positive.
3. Organ donation can cause health problems
Not only can organ donations cause complications with surgery but for some people, surgery will require a lifestyle change. If that lifestyle change is not followed, this can cause other health problems. For instance, those who donate a kidney will no longer be able to consume alcohol, or those who donate bone marrow may be restricted from participating in certain activities.
4. Not every organ will be accepted
Unfortunately, organs do get rejected by the body and it can be tough knowing that one must take immunosuppressants for the rest of their life just to stop their body from rejecting the organ that has saved their life.
5. Employers do not always have donor leave policies
When considering donating an organ, knowing employee policies around paid and unpaid leave is critical since being an organ donor is expensive. Some U.S states do not have donor leave policies which may heavily sway your decision to become an organ donor.
All in all, the best thing you can do if you are considering becoming an organ donor is to learn more about how the system works and what the benefits are. By becoming educated on the subject, you can make an informed decision on whether you would like to donate your body to medical research, provide your organs for donation, or opt out completely.