Mahatma Gandhi said, “The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.” He explains that to reach out a hand and help someone in need is a much stronger gesture of thoughtfulness than simply wishing for a situation to change. Ninety-five percent of U.S. adults support organ donation, but only forty-eight percent are actually signed up as donors (Organ Donation Statistics). So even though many adults condone the act of organ donation, only a small percentage are actually willing to sign up as a donor. It is estimated that 22 people die each day waiting for a transplant (Organ Donation Statistics). All adults should register as organ donors because organ donation saves lives, gives comfort to the donor’s family, and is considered the most selfless act to another human being by most major religions.
The process of organ donation saves people's lives by giving them healthy organs and tissues that the human body needs to survive. A great number of people on the national transplant waiting list are in end-stage organ failure, meaning that if they cannot get a transplant, they will end up dying. Over 119,000 men, women, and children are on the national transplant waiting list, and that number continues to grow with one new person being added every ten minutes (Organ Donation Statistics). Secondly, matching organ from donors to patients is a time consuming and complicated process. Factors that are taken into consideration include a patient's medical urgency, blood, tissue, and size, time on the waiting list and proximity to the donor all guide the distribution of organs (The Transplant). Pairing a healthy organ with a patient is no easy task and even when all the precautions are taken, there is still chance for rejection. If more adults signed up as donors, there would be a bigger pool to choose from, therefore making matching a quicker process. Also, many people believe that they cannot become donors for various reasons ranging from age to medical history. But neither of those things factor into a person’s eligibility to donate. In fact, all people should consider themselves potential organ and tissue donors, regardless of age or health. Don’t rule yourself out! No one is too old or too young to be a deceased donor (Organ Donation Myths). In fact, very few factors can prevent donation, including active cancer or infection.
In addition, organ donation brings comfort to the donor’s family as they grieve their loss. It carries a sense of satisfaction and peace to those who have lost someone because giving another chance at life to someone else helps them see an upside to their upsetting situation. Organ donation allows something positive to come out of a terrible event. A young man named Brandon was involved in a fatal car accident in February of 2007. His parents made the decision to donate his organs at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. “No one knows when they may die, but when you go, you can leave a legacy,” his father said. “Should anything happen to you, you will be a blessing to someone’s family. As long as the sun shines, you will be remembered” (Life). Brandon’s parents made the choice to use organ donation as a way to remember their son and created his legacy with the lives his organs saved. Likewise, a young woman learned that her mother was critically ill and was asked if the family wished to donate. They agreed that it was a wonderful idea. When asked about their reasoning, she said, “We asked ourselves what she would have wished, and consented to the donation of some of her organs. We wanted someone’s father, husband, wife, mother, daughter, or son, to have more time to spend with their loved ones” (Life). This family realized that donating their mother’s organs would prevent another family from feeling the pain and grief of loss that they had, and allowed that to fuel their decision to save another’s life. Additionally, a young girl named Daisy was only 17 when she had a brain aneurysm during surgery. She was declared brain dead by doctors. Her parents decided to donate some of her organs, a decision that helps them deal with their grief even now, years after the incident. They said what helped them make their decision was that they knew Daisy would have wanted to help others (Life). Consequently, these three families chose to create a lasting impact on a stranger’s life in the midst of their tragedy, and it helped them grieve and remember their lost family members.
Lastly, most major religions consider organ donation an honorable act of love for another human being. To start, Catholicism teaches that “donating organs can length life or improve the quality of life, and therefore it is a genuine service to one’s neighbor” (Miller 214). According to Pope John Paul II, “Organ, eye, and tissue donation is considered an act of charity and love, and transplants are morally and ethically acceptable to the Vatican” (Religion). Secondly, The Fourth Conference of the Islamic Fiqh Council determined that, “it is permissible to transplant an organ from a dead person to a living person whose life or basic essential functions depend on that organ, subject to the condition that permission be given by the deceased before his death, or by his heirs after his death…” (Religion). Thirdly, Judaism endorses and encourages organ, eye, and tissue donation in order to save lives. Rabbi Elliott N. Dorff, Professor at American Jewish University and Chair of the Conservative Movement's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, saving a life through organ donation supersedes the rules concerning treatment of a dead body (Religion). These major religions support a common message of love and respect for people everywhere, and conclude that organ donation is another way to demonstrate that love.
However, many people have concerns about becoming a donor. One such concern is that if a person is in the hospital and they are a donor, doctors will not try as hard to save them. This is false; when someone is sick and admitted into a hospital, a doctor's only priority is to save that person’s life. The possibility of organ donation is not even discussed until after all life-saving measures have been tried (Organ Donation Myths). Another worry is that the family of the deceased will not be able to have an open casket funeral. This is also false; an open casket funeral is usually possible for all donors. Furthermore, throughout the entire donation process, the body is treated with care, respect, and dignity (Organ Donation Myths). Unfortunately, these fears keep many adults from registering as donors, making the ratio of donors to patient even more unbalanced.
Everyone would save a life if they had the chance, and organ donation is a way for anyone to do so. Adults should become donors because not only does it save lives, it also helps a grieving family find some peace and is supported by most religions. Do not let misguided concerns keep you from helping improve someone’s chances to live a long and fulfilling life. All it takes is a few minutes to sign up and save someone’s life. Adults can register as organ donors at a local motor vehicle department or online.
“Life Stories.” U.S. Government Information on Organ Donation and Transplantation, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Accessed 21 Nov. 2016.
Miller, Michael J., translator. YOUCAT English. San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 2010.
“Organ Donation Myths and Facts.” U.S. Government Information on Organ Donation and Transplantation, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Accessed 21 Nov. 2016.
“Organ Donation Statistics.” U.S. Government Information on Organ Donation and Transplantation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Accessed 21 Nov. 2016.
“Religion and Organ Donation.” U.S. Government Information on Organ Donation and Transplantation, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Accessed 21 Nov. 2016.
“The Transplant Waiting List.” The Gift of a Lifetime. Accessed 21 Nov. 2016.
“Who Can Donate?” U.S. Government Information on Organ Donation and Transplantation, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Accessed 21 Nov. 2016.