While standing at the counter at the DMV waiting to get a driver’s license, many of us have experienced that awkward moment when the counter clerk says, “Please check the box yes or no if you want to be an organ donor.” They say it so matter of fact, as though they’re asking “Do you take your coffee black, or with cream?” In a matter of seconds our minds are racing with thoughts we weren’t prepared for. “Of course I want to be able to help others if something should happen to me. But what if I’m in a serious accident? Will they stop trying to save my life if they see I’m an organ donor? And what if I say yes and change my mind? I just don’t know.”
This is not a decision to be made on the spot. We need to weigh the pros and cons, and then make the choice that’s right for us. Yet, most of us never take the time to truly think about this decision. But we have an opportunity to change this.
April is National Donate Life month. This was implemented to help bring awareness to the importance of organ donation. Each day approximately 79 people receive organ donations, and a second chance at life. Yet 22 die each day because no matching donation was available. If it were us, or our loved ones, we would never want to be faced with this scenario. Yet, many of us still fear “checking the box.”
But here are a list of pros and cons that may help you consider what your choice will be:
- Clearly the most significant thing to note is that organ donation saves lives. More than 28 thousand people receive a second chance at life each year through transplant surgeries, yet thousands more die each year waiting for a surgery that never comes.
- Organ donation offers comfort and consolations for surviving family members whose loved ones have chosen organ donation. Loss is always difficult, but it’s helpful to know that something good came out of tragedy. Knowing the recipient is able to live a long and fruitful life due to your loved one’s decision becomes a significant part of their legacy.
- Donating various organs or your full body to medical research is also an option that holds incredible reward. Especially for those afflicted with a rare or debilitating disease, your donation will help researchers find a cure for these diseases for future generations.
- Even after death we still have an opportunity to do good in this world.
- Family of the deceased may sometimes experience prolonged suffering because the body must be kept on life support until the organs are harvested. This sometimes gives false hope or confusion about their loved one.
- Donated organs to the United Network of Organ Sharing are distributed to recipients without preferential treatment. This can be difficult if a loved one’s organs are donated to a recipient from a different race, gender, or religious affiliation that is unlike their own.
- Organ donation holds no guarantees. Some recipients may live for hours, weeks, or months before the body starts to reject the transplant. Some degree of rejection is common to most transplant recipients.
These are just a few things to weigh when making this decision for yourself, but there are organizations that can help you if you have further questions. Please contact:Donate Life Wisconsin Organ and Tissue Donation Program Division of Public Health Wisconsin Department of Health Services Website: http://donatelifewisconsin.org/ Phone: (608) 261-2654 Blood Center of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Donor Network Milwaukee, WI Website: www.bcw.edu/bcw/Organ-Tissue-Marrow Phone: (414) 937-6999
The staff are more than happy to answer any questions you may have, so don’t wait for the DMV clerk to ask you about it . . .
Consider donating life today!