The Importance of Becoming a Donor

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An issue of supply and demand is sweeping through United States hospitals: 100,000 people are currently waiting for an organ transplant; yet, only about 20,000 harvestable organs are available each year. Despite the two million annual deaths in the United States, nearly 80,000 patients die each year before receiving a transplant. These needless deaths are due to the limited number of donors on the national organ donor registry. Of the 300 million people in the United States today, only 28% of the population are registered donors.

The article “You Can’t Take Them With You,” written by Patty and Sandy Teensier, attempts to dispel several myths of organ donation. By outlining and subsequently disproving each myth, the Stonesifer sisters hope to persuade more people to become organ donors.
The first myth in the article is people’s misconception that doctors will hasten a patient’s death if he or she is an organ donor. People inaccurately believe EMTs and doctors won’t administer their usual quality of care if they hope to harvest one patient’s organs for another patient; however, this isn’t the case. EMTs and doctors alike are bound by laws and ethics to give the best possible care until a patient is in “cardiac death,” as determined by multiple physicians.
Another myth is people’s worry that being an organ donor nullifies an opportunity for an open-casket funeral. The authors clarify this is not the case; organ recovery teams do everything they can to remove the organs with as few incisions as possible. In this way, it is still possible for an organ donor to have an open-casket funeral.
It is these myths and others that have detrimental effects on the size of the organ donor list. In an average adult human body, there are nearly 20 harvestable organs and tissues. If only 28% of the population donates organs, over four billion organs go to waste each year, decaying in the ground with the deceased. Nearly every patient requiring an organ donation would be thankful and indebted to a stranger who voluntarily donated an organ. Why wouldn’t these patients do the same for a stranger, if they had a chance? Chances are they would, but the reality is a majority of the population doesn’t understand how to become a donor or realize the severe shortage of donated organs.
Although a portion of the population is adamantly apposed to organ donation, millions of organs aren’t donated each year because of unawareness. Millions of more lives could be saved each year if the general population was educated on how to become a donor and if misconceptions were dispelled.
As explained by the Stonesifer sisters, all that is needed to become an organ donor is to make the appropriate indication on a valid driver’s license and to make wishes known to a family member. Sandy Stonesifer explains, “Fewer than 50 percept of registered donors’ organs are harvested because their family members are concerned or uncooperative and ultimately decide not to consent to donation.” By informing readers of these effortless steps, dispelling their misconceptions, and easing their trepidations, the Stonesifer sisters are doing their part in boosting the number of nationally registered organ donors.





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