Organ and Tissue Donation
Most people agree that they would be willing to be an organ donor after death, but close to half of these same people have never discussed this option with their families. The deceased's family has the ultimate say in whether or not their loved one's organs are donated even if the deceased signed a card prior to death stating their wishes. Organ donation is not possible without family discussion. There is a massive shortage of donors and people are dying every year because organ donors are not always available.
Benefits of Organ Donation
Most organs that are used in transplants are from people who suffered brain death, meaning there is no blood or oxygen flow to the brain and there is a total cessation of brain function. Brain death occurs as the result of heart attacks, accidents or strokes. These tissues and organs are usually in good condition and open casket funerals are still an option since the procedure to remove the organs is surgical and all incisions are closed. Most organs need to be used between 6 and 72 hours after being removed from the donor's body, but the tissues (bone, heart valves, tendons, skin, cornea, cartilage and ligaments) can be stored and preserved in tissue banks.
Statistics on Organ Donation
- There are over 100,000 people on the transplant waiting list
- Every 16 minutes a name is added to the national waiting list
- There are around 24,000 transplants available
- There are close to 12,000 donors
- 96% of people are willing to donate their organs after death
- 48% of people willing to donate have not discussed this with their families
- 35% of licensed drivers are registered as organ donors
- In 2007 registered donors saved the lives of over 300,000 people
- One donor can save the lives of 8 people
- One tissue donor can improve 50 people's lives
- 18 people die every day waiting for a transplant
- In 2007, 29,000 people received a life-saving transplant in the United States
How to Become a Donor
The best way to express your wishes to become a donor postmortem is to register yourself as a designated organ donor with your state. In order to register, you should contact your state motor vehicle department. Another important aspect is talking with your families. If you wish to become a donor, make sure they are aware of your wishes and willing to uphold them after death. In most cases the doctor will allow the family of the deceased to make the final call. If you wish to donate your whole body to medical science, make sure to let your family know this as well. You should also contact the medical school of your choice before death. These bodies are used by medical schools to teach medical students anatomy and research facilities use them to devise cures for diseases and their processes.