The importance of Organ Donation


For many doctors, nurses, and the general public the term life support calls up the image of a ventilator. However, there are many types of life support one of them being organ transplants. As with any other type of life support, organ transplantation comes with its share of problems.

Forty years ago, many people died because doctors could not successfully complete a transplant and prevent rejection of the new organ. The knowledge of anti-rejection drugs was limited, and the surgery involved was extremely difficult. Today, science has made improvement in the field of transplantation to the point that most transplant operations are considered low risk. The success rate is high for kidney transplants, liver transplants, cornea transplants, and even heart and lung transplants. However, more then 5,000 patients die each year in the United States not because of scientific reasons but because of social. In the United States, the majority of people are in favor of organ donation, but only a small amount actually ends up donating their organs when they die. There are not near enough organs to meet the demand, which means an average of 16 patients die every day from what could have been a curable disease.

This problem is due not only to human psychology but organ donation laws. Current United States law states that the final decision for organ donation falls to the power of attorney or the deceased patient's next of kin. Organ donation cards or an organ donation indication on a person's drivers license are important legal documents. However, a family member's decision overrules these documents.

Most people do not dwell on the possibility of dying, so they do not take the time to discuss with their family their feelings about organ donation. Then when the time comes for the family to make a decision many are not sure what to do. They can not stand the thought of someone using their loved ones body and in turn decide not to donate.

One of the main problems with donation is that it requires two people, the donor and their family member. The donor must talk with their family member about their feelings on donation and the family member must decide to respect those feelings when the time comes to make the decision. If this process is not done and most of the time it is not, then nobody gets to use the organs.

This process has created a medical crisis in the United States today, and there are many people working together to resolve this problem.

Scientists have attempted to develop new techniques to help find a solution for this problem. One example includes xenotransplantation, which is a transplant between different species. This experiment is still in early stages, but has had promising results. Another technique is artificial organs, replacing damaged organs with man made organs; while there have been advances with this procedure they have found that artificial organs do not work as well as the natural organs.

Doctors and politicians have suggested legal and social changes as the best option. In some of the other countries it is automatically assumed that you are an organ donor unless you notify the government otherwise. Few people take the action of notifying them which increases the supply of organs. Many politicians and doctors feel this should be done in the United States, but it has met with much resistance, due to the fact that people do not want to give up that much control over their bodies.

Most experts agree that the solution is for organizations such as the UNOS, United Network of Organ Sharing, and the AMA, American Medical Association, along with other organizations, increase their efforts to educate the public about the benefits of donation. They hope that more people will come to understand the need for organs and the benefit of donation. They want society to see donation as their social responsibility and that organ donation is one of the greatest ways to serve humanity.

So together everyone can play a part in the solution to this problem and hopefully one day organ transplant recipients will have a 100% chance of survival.

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Comments 8 comments

Bonnie Ramsey profile image

Bonnie Ramsey 8 years ago from United States

Great hub! I think another thing is to stop the override of the deceased's wishes. If they have any documents stating that they wish to donate their organs, there should be no one that could dispute that fact! I have not only done that but also made all my family aware of my wishes. What the heck will I need my organs for at that point? Why not use them to save someone else from suffering? If it were me or one of my family member in need, I would hope someone else would feel the same way.


my3kids profile image

my3kids 8 years ago from Frametown, West Virginia Author

Thank you and I totally agree. My Dad had a liver transplant when it was still experimental and he later developed complications and passed away but I will always be grateful for the family who gave us the special gift of 3 extra years with him. I have made my feeling plain to my family too.

moonlake profile image

moonlake 8 years ago from America

You may not like my comment. Our son 5 years ago received a brain injury. The day after he arrived at the hospital and all test were finished they ask us to sign for him to be a donor. They told us he was brain dead. I just couldn't do it I was worried they would turn off the machines and not try to save him..Everyday for two weeks more then once a day they ask us to sign to take him off life support and sign for him to be a donor. We said "no you do all that you can to save him. When we think it is the right time we will sign." I heard the nurses talking about us and how foolish we were. Long story short. Our son is alive today and living a normal life.

I know how much donors are needed and I know that someday I may need one of those donors. I have a bad heart.

I still believe everyone should sign a donor card or whatever. It was just a decision we couldn't make for our son.

allshookup profile image

allshookup 8 years ago from The South, United States

Donating is a great thing. It's one of the reasons I am typing to you today. That and God's mercy. But, I also see what moonlake is saying. And I'm thankful she did what she did. I don't think I could do that with my son either if there was still any life left in him at all. I think I'd feel if there was some type of life, that he's still here with us and I'd have to have faith God would heal him since God is in the healing business. Of this, I am proof. I admire those who do donate and the lives they have saved I hope comforts them and/or their families. But, I also see moonlakes side and she did the right thing for her son. Those nurses don't need to be working in health care since they have that type of attitude. It's mean and cold for them to do what they did. We need compassionate people to work in the health care industry. You talked about politicians getting involved with it. I don't know if I like that idea too much. If you give the government an inch, they take about 100 miles. I'd worry they would pass some type of law that says you HAVE to do it in certain circumstances and that could cost lives. I'd rather leave that to the person and their family.

my3kids profile image

my3kids 8 years ago from Frametown, West Virginia Author

Moonlake, I had no offense to your comment at all. I totally agree that it is a persons choice. I am so happy to hear about your son and those nurses who were talking were just cruel and I apologize on behalf of my field. If it came to my family members yes I would hold off and I would want them to do all they can but then when it came a point that there was nothing they could do and I knew that then I hope I would be strong enough to help them. There is such a fine line with these type of decisions. I just hope that if it comes my time and they know there is nothing more to do that my family respects my wishes.

my3kids profile image

my3kids 8 years ago from Frametown, West Virginia Author

Allshook up. Yes governments can take a mile when you are asking for an inch, unfortunately though they have more power then us common people. I do not agree that the government have control on peoples organ donation status, I was just stating how it was in other countries. However, there should be some regard to a persons right and if in there right mind and legal age they signed a document stating their wishes then it should not be disputed and the family shouldn't be allowed to change this. I sorry if this offends everyone but I feel very strongly about this. I work in a nursing home where I have heard and seen the patients there ask for no CPR or other measures and signed the papers to the fact and then when the patient loses their capacity to make decisions the family takes over and completely disrespects there decision. I think there should be something out there that entitles these people the respect that they deserve and that their wishes be kept.

days leaper profile image

days leaper 6 years ago from england

A complicated subject, as a dialysis patient for nearly seven years I used my free choice to opt out of the transplant list. In writing my reasons why, I found your site; I've now added this to list.

I do not consider it to be a "cure" as you put it, rather an alternative among the choices of coping. Still, I hope adding you will give readers a more complete picture. And considering that organ brought up such things as tatoos, playing the piano etc. Yours was the best choice.

Good Luck with your endeavours, I genuinely hope you enjoy continued health for many years!

T-Girl 5 years ago

I totally agree with organ donations but, like what moonlake said, some times people (the doctors) may want to turn off life support.

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