Are you a registered organ donor? Do you want to be an organ donor? Have you ever needed an organ transplant? What are the pros and cons of organ donation?
These are the questions that I asked my Twitter followers, we will explore their responses throughout this post, but first I want to talk about the importance of organ donation and some of the statistics surrounding this topic.
There are 6339 people in the UK waiting for a transplant, 1409 people have received a transplant since April 2019.
Every year around 1400 people donate their organs when they pass away and more than 1000 people donate a kidney or part of their liver whilst they are still alive; yet on average, 3 people die every day in need of an organ transplant. This means that we need more people to donate their organs in order to save more lives. It is heartbreaking knowing that someone could have had a second chance at life if they had received a transplant, but there are no donations to give to them.
Jupiter (www.jupiterhadley.com) ‘I was an organ donor. I felt that your body should be used more, if possible when you die. It is not like I will need them. My last partner, however, had strong feelings about being buried. He felt that if my organs were taken, I wouldn’t be able to have an open casket and that would cause him distress. So after a while, I removed my name due to his strong feelings, despite the use my organs could have had.’
There are many people who are unsure about adding their name to the donor list for various different reasons. One of the reasons is due to the thoughts and opinions of their loved ones and worries about how being an organ donor can affect their funeral arrangements. I signed up to be an organ donor earlier this year and when I told my partner he was a little bit shocked. He respects my decision, however, after discussing the topic in more detail he stated that he would not want his organs to be taken if he died… I tried to talk him into changing his mind at first… but then I remembered that I felt that way once too! At the end of the day, it is your body and you have every right to decide what to do with it… even after death.
It is a myth that organ donation affects funeral plans. Professionals work with the utmost respect to extract the organs from the patient in good time, stitch up the wounds and dress them as they would for a living person. You can still have an open casket after donating organs, any scarring will be covered with clothing and therefore will not be visible.
I understand that simply knowing your loved one is laying there empty inside can be harrowing for some people, but I believe it is important to remember that they left a piece of them behind in order to help others. They chose to be selfless and pass on what they could after they no longer needed them, they are at peace and thanks to them another person was able to continue their life for a little bit longer.
Jess (@LittlePiinkDuck) ‘I have not had a transplant but I am currently waiting for a kidney. At first, when I was put on the transplant list, it was awful. I felt like I was essentially waiting for someone to die. However, as time went on I started to change how I thought about it and realised these people put themselves forward to donate when they die. When a deceased donation is your only option you have to try and see it as their time to go, rather than waiting for someone to die because you will drive yourself crazy with guilt.’
‘That’s very true, I know a lot of people who have had transplants and many of them felt the same way! But as you said, you are not waiting for someone to die, you are waiting for an organ to be donated; willingly by someone whose life has reached its end.’
Receiving another person’s organs can be equally as scary as the thought of donating. Often those who are on the transplant list, or those who have recently received an organ, will receive lots of aftercare and support. People often feel guilty for taking another person’s organs… although they have nothing to feel guilty for! They did not force the person to donate, they did not kill the person or wish them dead; life took its natural course and someone kindly donated their organs once they had served their purpose for them.
Victoria (@LyliaRose / LyliaRose.com) ‘Yes I am an organ donor. I always have been. If I can save a life or more when I die, then that is amazing! I won’t need my organs anymore.
I signed up this year, previously I was unsure… But once I’m gone I’m gone and I won’t need them, so why not leave something positive behind in my place.
Yes, that’s my thoughts. My son may need a heart valve transplant when an adult so it really is lifesaving. My cousin died unexpectedly aged 17 and her organs saved lives. The papers said she ‘gave the gift of life’. I’ve been a donor ever since (it was 18 years ago)
So sorry to hear that, it is nice how she was able to save lives and leave such an incredible gift behind In her place… I think it can be comforting knowing a part of her still lives on! I hope all goes well with your son in future.
The sad reality is that people of all ages lose their lives. The sad truth is that there are many young people waiting for lifesaving transplants. The horrible truth is that some parents will have to make that difficult decision of whether or not to donate their child’s organs after they have passed away. It is hard to make such big decisions when you are already facing something so terribly heartbreaking. But it is important that these decisions are made quickly as there is a time frame in which extracting organs must be done. Again, it is important to think of how your loved one could leave behind something positive when they pass, they could become a hero to another person, even though they are no longer here to see the changes that they have made.
The Law is Changing
At the moment, here in the UK, we are all given the option to sign the donor registration list. Adults can do this online whenever they please, children as young as 12 can also sign up whenever they please (although they will need parental consent to do so).
But this will all be changing in Spring 2020. Instead, everyone will automatically be an organ donor and if you wish to opt-out of this, you need to record your decision online or over the phone. You can still adjust your preferences and select what you wish to donate and what you wish to keep.
Families will still be consulted after the loss of a loved one when it comes to donating, and parents will still be asked for permission in the case of a child’s death.
You can read more about these changes here.
Please think about your decision carefully, and respect the decision of your loved ones whatever that may be. Organ donation is so important, it is literally lifesaving. You could leave something amazing behind after death.
If it was you who needed a transplant, would you accept it? If it was a loved one who needed a transplant, would you want them to have it? Then donate and give others that chance that you would want if it was you.