Why Should I Be An Organ Donor?

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Each day in the United States the National Kidney Foundation reports more than one million persons on the kidney transplant list. Sadly many people will never get that call informing them that there is a donor organ available for their use. An estimated twenty persons die each day due to a lack of donor organs.

Our Kidneys and Why We Need Them?

The Human kidneys, shaped like two kidney beans lie against the back muscles of in the upper abdomen. They are located on the left and right sides of the back (flank) muscles with the right kidney ‘sitting’ a little lower than the left due the the size and shape of the liver.

Combined our kidneys contain about 1.2 million renal corpuscles that filter up to 1500 liters (400 US gallons) of blood daily. What a powerhouse!

It purifies the blood and removes toxins from the body. They control the water balance, regulates our electrolytes like, sodium and potassium and maintains homeostasis thus keep us alive.

The renal system aids in the breakdown some medications such as NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) making it available for use by our bodies. One such example is advil. The kidneys excretes all these waste products in the form of urine.

What happens when our kidneys malfunction?

If our kidneys are not functioning at their optimum or not working at all, then the toxins from the break down of the various chemical process involved in keeping us alive will not be removed and, will remain in the body causing illness and death in a relatively short period of time. When this happens the blood must be cleansed by artificial means.

Dialysis, using an external machine to ‘cleanse’ the blood is the next step. This process requires the creation of a ‘shunt’ which is created connecting an artery and a vein to be used for access to the circulatory system.

Image: masagepassport.wordpress.com

The process of dialysis greatly restricts a persons activities of daily living. It’s a time consuming process that generally requires you to go to a dialysis center three days a week, up to eight hours at a time.  The toxins are removed by spending an average six to eight hours at a time.

After dialysis patients often report they felt like they had the stuffing knocked out of them. The body has been depleted and unfortunately no man-made processes will ever work as well as God’s, so it takes time to return to your norm. Then by the time you begin to feel better its time to repeat the process again.

Am I Too Young to donate?

Many states allow people who are younger than 18 to register as organ donors.

You are legally able to decide from the age of 18, but some final input may be required from your parent or legal guardian.

So discuss your wish to become an organ donor with your family, and ask for their advise. Keep in mind that many children too, are in need of organ transplants.

Am I Too Old to Donate?

You are not too old to donate, just inform of your desire to do so and let the medical professionals make the decision whether or not you are able to do so.

Do not discount organ donation because you think you are too old as there is no defined cutoff age for donating organs. The decision to use your donation is based on strict medical criteria, not age.

The idea of donating your organs may be an unpleasant one to grapple with. I must admit that I was not enamored with the idea myself. As humans we do not want to contemplate our own demise and the connotations that this idea brings to mind are not pleasant ones. But the truth is that organ donation saves lives.

If they know I’m a donor, will they just let me die so they can have my organs?

Some people are under the misconception that their medical treatment may no longer be a a priority if they become donors”, the medical staff will make every effort to save your life as is within their power to do so.

When you are ill medical personnel are required by moral and legal code of ethics to make every available effort to save your life first. You will be seen by a doctor whose expertise most closely matches your particular condition and who can and will give you the best care possible.

If you are unsure of, or uncomfortable with your faith’s position on organ donation, ask a member of your clergy.

Even if your organs are not used for living recipients, they can be used in science to further medical understanding of many disease processes thereby making a greater impact.

Don’t deny yourself from the chance to help someone else. Let the doctors decide at the time of your death whether your organs and tissues are suitable for transplantation.

Being a Living Donor

If you decide to become a living donor, i.e. giving one of your kidneys to someone while you are still living you will have to undergo extensive psychological testing to ensure you are not being coerced into doing so.

This ensures that you are aware of the risks associated with your decision. Doctors will also test to see if your kidneys are in good shape and whether you can live a healthy life with just one kidney.

It’s critically important to consider becoming an organ donor if you belong to an ethnic minority. Minorities like African Americans, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, and Hispanics are more likely than Caucasians to have certain chronic conditions that affect the kidneys, heart, lung, pancreas and liver. Some examples of such diseases are; alcoholism, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Certain blood types are more prevalent in ethnic minority populations. Because matching blood type is usually necessary for transplants, the need for minority organ donors is a ‘dire need’.

How to Register to Become a Donor

Becoming a donor is easy. Here are a few ways to indicate your wishes:

  • By registering on your State’s website.
  • Have it placed on your drivers’ license. 
  • Inform your close family members.

If you have a loved one who will make decisions in the event you cannot make them for yourself, discuss your expectations with them and ensure that they understand and will honor your wishes.

So now that you have some of the facts, can you see that being an organ donor can make a big difference? and not just to one person? Organ and tissue from one donor can save or at best improve as many as 75 lives. Also knowing that your loved one helped save or improve the lives of many others may bring you some comfort.

What are your thoughts, please comment below. I would really love to know.

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26 Replies to “Why Should I Be An Organ Donor?”

  1. I became an organ donor several years ago. But my dad, who is passed now, was too scared to be a donor, for the very reason you mentioned. He was afraid they would remove his life support too quickly. I believe it is a way for me to serve others even after I am gone. Thank you for the great information so others can make the decision that is right for them. Enjoying your blog.

  2. I also recently embraced the idea of being a donor. I was with the mind that if ever I come across a situation where someone needs it and I match I will donate, didn’t think that I can just donate now for those already in need. I’m also not sure if registering to be a donor is done in Ghana but I will find out. Will want to donate all organs and the body when I die as well. Thank you so much for this information.

    1. Now you have me thinking I should be checking in my birth country as well and bring awareness to the benefits of organ donation. Thank you so much for your comment. I love to hear what others’ are thinking.

  3. Giving your organs after you die seems like a no-brainer to me 🙂 Bt people don’t do it for the same reasons they don’t buy life insurance or write a will — they think they will love forever. What a wonderful way organ donation is to make your own life more valuable.

  4. My family knows, it’s on my driver’s license and in my will. Every part is donated, including my skin. I’m not going to need any of it where I’m going after I die!😊 I am willing to be a living donor, if needed and I am a match. I think it’s great that you are making people aware of the need!

  5. Thank you for sharing. I had a dear cousin pass away unexpectedly last year in a coma, and she was able to give to more than 8 lives. It only brightened her light and her legacy all the more ❤️.

  6. I think it might be best if all countries used a default-yes system, that one was free to opt out off instead of opt in, because I think many people are hesitant to sign-up for the simple reason one doesn’t want to think about issues like serious accidents or death… But most people I think would want to donate if they like a ghost would stand over their own body in the event of their passing. But then it is too late to opt-in… Still, an important issue! 🙂 Though, I also hope medicine will get so far in the coming years/decades that lab-grown organs can be just as good, so that no person ever again will have to suffer or pass due to a lack of a suitable organ.

  7. I have a sick kidney, so I understand firsthand the need for each of us to make this important decision… I am a registered donor… hope to not need it anytime soon (!), but willing to give… thanks for starting an important conversation…

    1. So sorry to hear of your kidney, you seem to be doing well and a donor as well, that’s such a noble thing to do as you more so than others understand the needs.

  8. Hi Gifted, just quick note on the figure you gave at the beginning of your article. If you are referring strictly to the amount of people needing a transplant in the US, the number is a bit north of 100,000, not a million. That said, it’s still an astronomical number and way too many people are in need.
    I was recently diagnosed over the summer with stage 4 IgA Nephropathy. I’m not yet at dialysis level, but will likely get there sooner than later, so I share many of your concerns.
    Hopefully some of the technology they are working on now to replace dialysis will at the very least alleviate the scarcity issue we have with too many people on dialysis and not enough kidneys too go around.
    Beyond that we really need to get the word out on the importance of live donors.
    Best of luck.

  9. Thank you for sharing this important information and sending out a call for us to think ahead so we can be a blessing to others when this life is over. You explained it all so clearly. I am a registered donor. Lifting up a prayer tonight for all those who are waiting for an a healthy organ.

  10. I definitely think people should be a donor! I hate think if I ever needed one… or one of my kids. We can’t take it with us, so may as well.

  11. I am also an organ donor when I started driving. I just want to help and in the knowledge that when I die, somebody will live since I won’t be using all those organs anymore.

    1. That is a great and wonderful thing to do. I salute you for your generosity.
      Happy to make your acquaintance. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

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