More than 116,000 men, women and children are awaiting life-saving organ transplants, according to Donate Life – America. In the nation, 22 people die each and every day waiting for an organ transplant. Many of us are often misinformed about the facts of organ donation. Organ donation is a serious matter—life and death serious for many people. One organ donor can save up to eight lives and change the life of at least 50 people (National Foundation for Transplants). These statistics speak for themselves.
I first started learning about organ donation when I was about 11 years old. My mother’s sister, my Aunt Beth, was having serious medical issues. This went on for quite a while, and I remember people talking often about the severity of her illness. They discovered that she needed a liver transplant upon many other medications and diagnoses. She was checked into KU Medical Center in Kansas City, where she stayed for almost six months. In this time, doctors treated her illness as well as they could, while waiting for a donated liver to become available to save her life. We waited and waited, and in this time I started thinking about organ donation at a whole new level. Someone I loved was dying, and there wasn’t anyone who was registered as a donor with a match? This is when I started thinking and praying to myself when I would pass a car accident, first that the victim of the accident was all right, and second, if they weren’t, that they were a donor. Thoughts like these don’t come unless you have been put through a situation where a loved one is wasting away waiting on a transplant. Eventually, Aunt Beth did get a liver, and doctors did the procedure, but she very quickly started getting much worse. This was a sign that her body was rejecting the liver and it didn’t work. We were back to square one waiting again. Then, again a liver came through. Doctors questioned whether they should do the surgery. They worried surgery might not be effective because she was so sick. They decided to try, but unfortunately, again, her body rejected the liver. Her body was just too sick to accept the liver. At this point, I started to question God. He brought us a liver, and it didn’t work, and when the second liver came and Aunt Beth was too sick, why did God not place that liver with another patient? Could someone else’s life have been saved because of this one liver that had no chance from the start for Aunt Beth?
Since this experience, I have been a strong advocate for organ donation. The way I see it, if I am dead and there was no saving me, if doctors can use my parts to save others, why think twice about that? It is a no brainer. The U.S. Government Information on Organ Donation and Transplantation states that anyone, regardless of age or medical history, can sign up to be a donor. About 94% of U.S. adults support organ donation, but only 54% are actually signed up to be donors. Even starting out with something as simple as blood donation is a help and can save many. I have also personally looked into living donations, as well. Living donation started due to the lack of donors to save those needing a transplant. Patients needing either a kidney or liver transplant can have a live donor, and both parties are expected to come out with great life expectancy (Donate Life).
A little later in my life, maybe 15, I met a young man named Travis. Travis was born with kidney issues and had been sick on and off growing up. As the years went on, Travis started to become more and more sick. He is now in need of a kidney. The waiting list for any person in need of an organ is crazy long, and many fear they will never make it before a matching organ becomes available. This stress wears on Travis, as well as his family and friends. He is currently very close to the front of the list, but people can be added to the list ahead of him at any point due to the severity of their issues. Travis has made the trip to Kansas City a few times hoping that the kidney being brought in was a match, only to get a call when they were about half way there telling them it’s not a match, sending him back to his everyday life. Travis is now taking dialysis treatments for three hours every day to try to keep his body well. I have started to go through the process to find out if I am a match to do a living donation for him. This process could take a while and is very specific, so they know they are making the right decision before operating.
It is up to us to stand up and become donors. It is our job to make this happen, and it goes deeper than saying yes to the lady at the DMV when she wants to put a little red heart on your license. Register online at https://www.donatelife.net, and become a donor today.