Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Organ Donation

Sarah Murnaghan got her lungs today. Sarah Murnaghan, in case you don't know, is a little girl dying from cystic fibrosis. She wasn't originally put on the organ donors list because those receiving lung transplants technically must be twelve years old and she's only ten. A federal judge recently declared that she must be put on the list and so she is recovering from surgery at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia as we speak. Sarah Murnaghan got her transplant today. She's part of the lucky few. Every day, eighteen people die while waiting for the transplant they need ("The Need Is Real"). 90% of Americans support organ donation but only 43% of Americans are registered organ donors nationwide ("Statistics"). The need is real but the need isn't being met. Sarah Murnaghan was lucky... but so many others aren't. Organ donation is such an important topic but, unfortunately, so many people are uninformed about many of its aspects and, formerly, I was included in that group. So I took it upon myself to research it.

Like I stated, the vast majority of Americans support organ donation. Yet, given that, why do so little Americans donate their organs even after death? The main reason seems to be ignorance. Most Americans don't understand the crucial steps needed to become an organ donor or even the different types of organ donation there is.

I also think a lot of it is the fact that it deals with death in a way and that's not something most people want to think of. It's not a conversation that most people want to have even if it's a conversation that most people need to have. A lot of people want to think of death as something pristine, close to tradition. For some reason, they care about their body's state even though they won't be around to appreciate it. So many people are appalled by the idea of all of their organs not being intact with their body somehow, imagine their body ripped apart. Again, this probably has to do with the ignorance over organ donation. Of course, they're only looking at it from that perspective forgetting that their organs will actually be going to help people instead of rotting away uselessly underground. But still, people will insist, won't be able to get over that hurdle. They might even bring up their family's possible pain in this and perhaps that might be violent but, with less ignorance that could be helped.

Of course, you don't even have to be dead to donate organs! But then that's even worse because people will think of the pain and the inconvenience to them, which is more understandable, I suppose. Many people want to cling on to their organs in case a loved one might need one, which I suppose is also understandable. But still, it's so easy to become an organ donor and I don't understand why more people don't become one. My father is a registered organ donor and I plan to become one when I turn eighteen.

Perhaps it would help if there was a viable, legal organ market. At the moment, Americans can only sell blood plasma, sperm and eggs, but no other organs. Perhaps this is a mistake. As much as I appreciate the beauty of donating out of the goodness of one's own heart, I do understand that there often has to be another incentive for many people. And an organ market would hurt no one: it would save more lives and it would also give people the ability to decide what to do with their own money. I can see the arguments against this of course, mostly citing the possible exploitation of the poor, who would be more likely to sell their organs (and at a lower price than deserved). In a way, I understand this though I'm afraid this is already happening. There is also an argument against the poorer people on the list but, again, hopefully there would still be ways to encourage donation over selling an organ. Also, I feel that if people have the means to save their own lives and the lives of their children, they should do whatever is possible to help them (the poor are already screwed over in the American health care system anyway but that's the argument for another day). Legalization would allow for regulation and the end of the underground market. And perhaps this would be enough to save more lives.

When somebody donates their organs after they die, they are often to save many more lives. Their muscles, lungs, kidneys, heart can all be used to save the lives of eight people or more ("Statistics"). Pretty incredible when you think of it. All of these people can be saved and yet they aren't being saved.

Regardless of your opinion, this is a real problem. Until we find a way to create synthetic organs to deal with this need, it will always be a problem. Sarah was lucky but so many aren't. That's what makes organ donation so important. Whatever the case, we need more organs for people. Thousands of people die every year from not getting an organ. Will you be willing to help them?

Works Cited:
"The Need Is Real: Data." | Welcome to N.p., n.d. Web. 12 June 2013.
"OPTN: Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network." OPTN: Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 June 2013.
"Statistics |" Donatelifenet RSS2. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 June 2013.

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