It’s not a casual conversation, but organ donation is something we should all talk about - because the need for organ donors is very real.
Consider these statistics from the Organ Procurement and Transplant Network:
- More than 100,000 people are on the national transplant waiting list.
- Every 9 minutes another person is added to the transplant waiting list.
- 17 people die each day waiting for an organ transplant.
- Every donor can save 8 lives and improve the lives of 75 more.
In the Upper Midwest, an estimated 3,400 people are waiting for a transplant at any given time.
One of the biggest challenges to organ donation is getting people to register to become organ donors before they are faced with a tragic situation. If a person has not taken the steps to register or discuss their wishes with their family in advance, it is very difficult for a family to make that decision when they are still dealing with their own loss.
Myths that surround organ donation can also keep people from registering.
Some of these include the following
If I register to become an organ donor, my doctors won’t work as hard.
The health care providers taking care of you are trying to save your life. They are non-transplant medical professionals who do not know if you are a registered donor. You don’t become eligible to be considered for organ donation until you have been declared brain dead or it is determined that further care will not be beneficial.
An open-casket funeral isn’t an option if I donate my organs.
During the entire donation process the body is treated with care, respect and dignity. The process that is used to perform an autopsy is the same process used for organ donation. Once clothed, you cannot tell the difference.
I’m too young to think about organ donation.
There is no age limit on organ donation. You can start having conversations about organ donation when your children are school age.
I’m too old to donate.
No one is too young or too old to donate. If you are otherwise healthy, many of your organs could still be viable for an organ donation.
I’m not in good enough health to donate my organs.
Very few medical conditions disqualify you from donating your organs. While it may be determined that certain organs are not fit for transplantation, other tissues and organs may be fine. Simply put, a disease in one organ does not preclude other organs from being donated.
Organ donation is against my religious beliefs.
Most religions support organ donation. It is often considered a final act of love and generosity toward others.
My family will be charged additional costs if I donate my organs.
The organ donor and family are never charged for donating organs.
What many don’t realize is that organ donation can be a rewarding and positive experience during an otherwise devastating time. It can help a family work through the grieving process and deal with their loss by knowing their loved one is helping save the lives of others.
Becoming a donor is easy. Many people sign up to become organ donors when they obtain their driver’s license, starting at age 14. In North Dakota, you can also update your donor status online.
CHI St. Alexius Health partners with LifeSource, the Organ Procurement Organization for the Dakotas and Minnesota. LifeSource works with transplant centers to help match donor gifts with recipients in need. The process takes coordination between the donor family, CHI St. Alexius, LifeSource and Transplant Centers. Through this process something good can come from the tragedy of a donor family. Donation offers healing to a family experiencing a loss and hope to the patient receiving the transplant.
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