Police officers, firefighters and medical teams are given daily opportunities to be heros. Their jobs are dedicated to protecting and saving lives. But heroes come in many forms.
There are many actions that can be considered heroic, but which we normally don't even think about. With one thought-ful decision, the average person can volunteer to save lives and join the ranks of heroes by choosing to become an organ donor.What are people's feelings about becoming organ donors? When approached about this subject, there are three basic answers:
- I would absolutely NOT be an organ donor.
Many concerns prevent people from donating. The most prevalent reasons are fear of death, fear of mistreatment, fear from lack of information and apathy.
The decision to become an organ donor forces people to consider the reality that they are going to die someday. Deciding to be a donor does not determine one's date of expiration.
To many, any discussion of death is uncomfortable. Even thoughts of an accident can invoke concern about adequate medical treatment for people identified as donors. The emergency room team is a separate medical staff from surgeons who perform organ transplants. The emergency room team administers life-saving procedures to an accident victim, and will only contact the Organ Procurement Organization (OPT) after every known procedure fails and after consulting with the family.
To a number of people, organ donation conjures up false images of body mutilations. In actuality, a small incision is made, similar to minor surgery, to harvest usable organs. The body is then restored to a presentable condition. This is comforting to family members.
This might be the "information age," but many people are in the dark where organ donations are concerned. Because of a lack of information, they refuse to even consider it and do not care to learn more.
- In an emergency, or for a family member, I would consider being a donor.
There are those who are willing to donate an organ in an emergency but are uncomfortable with the thought of donating to a stranger. Being able to choose which organs they will donate and whom the recipient will be is more appealing to them.
- Absolutely! I have already agreed to a donor.
"What am I going to do with my organs?" asks Janalyn Rowley, a freshman at Brigham Young University. "I'll be dead; they won't do me any good. But they can give someone else a chance of life - someone who has perhaps been waiting a long time."
This is a typical response by those who willingly participate in the organ donation program. Those who have experienced the benefits of organ donation are more likely to consider donating themselves.
If you are even considering being a donor, or if you are a donor, or if you simply have questions about procedures, there are many places you can go for information. United Network of Organ Sharing (UNOS) has created a Web site that will answer most questions.
Some people feel guilty about not being willing to donate organs. Don't. Instead, find out why you are reluctant and answer your own questions. Not everyone needs to be - or can be - a donor. But the more there are, the greater the chance that someone who desperately needs a new organ will be saved.
Even if you feel uncomfortable or hesitant about donating organs, you can still help save people's lives by donating blood. Donating blood is a safe, seven-to-10-minute procedure that is needed all the time, especially if you have a rare blood type.
Approximately 40,000 pints of blood are transfused in hospitals around the United States every day, and only 5 percent of healthy Americans donate every year. Uses for the blood include accident and trauma victims, cancer patients, organ transplant patients and premature infants. There are medical reasons some people may not be able to donate. But if you are ever able to give blood, you will be performing a great service.
There is an urgent need for organ donors. Approximately 60,000 people have their names on lists, waiting for organs that can save their lives. Every 16 minutes, another individual is added to that list.
People are apathetic, mainly because they are uniformed about the great need for donors. Think of it differently. Would you be able to accept an organ if it was your only option? Would you want someone to donate so that you could live longer? If your child needed an organ, how would you feel if his or her name went on the bottom of the list of 60,000 people waiting for an organ or a tissue match?
Thinking of it differently, wouldn't you reconsider to be a hero for someone?