There are many misconceptions about being an organ donor. From personal experience, there is one misconception I'd like to clear up.
If you're not in great health, you shouldn't or couldn't sign up or be an organ donor.
This is absolutely not true and couldn't be farther from the truth.
While it is true you may not be able to donate certain organs, there are other organs and/or even tissues that may be perfectly fine and usable.
The day my brother lost his battle with cystic fibrosis, the first thing I thought about was organ donation. We had actually been right in the middle of fundraising for his double lung transplant and we had learned so much about organ donation and transplant. It just seemed like the right thing to do.
Unfortunately, at that time that I was fundraising for him, I was also working a full-time job, a part-time job and taking college courses part-time. I know.....when did I possibly have time to do fundraising?! I will not lie. It was not easy. But, I did it.
Having all that responsibility......I just never thought to have that conversation with him. You know, the one that would answer that question, "Do you want to be an organ donor?" I guess a part of me figured he would have most certainly had that conversation with his wife -right?!
That day when I got the dreaded call...Eddie was losing his fight. I was completely heart broken and devastated that he passed before I got to his room. I never got to say goodbye; to say it was okay to go; or to say I was sorry that I couldn't do more to have changed his circumstances.
As I stood next to him in his bed, the nurse had come in and asked my mother if she wished to have him be an organ donor. Her response, "I don't think there is anything (organ) good he could donate." I glared at her and said, "That's not true!" But, in the end, she was listed as his health proxy, so I didn't have a say.
At that time, I was angry with my mother for thinking he (my brother) could in no way be an organ donor. It was almost as if she was saying he was damaged. He was not damaged! Looking back, now, I think her response came from a place of fear/uncertainty and lack of knowledge. I knew, he may not have been able to donate his lungs or pancreas, possibly a few other organs -but, he could donate organs and even tissue(s).
The point of sharing my very personal experience with you is to educate through experience, as my grandmother always said, "Knowledge is power." Yes, my brother had cystic fibrosis but that did not disqualify him from being an organ donor. Please talk with your health care provider, transplant clinic and family. Educate yourself, and above all, please consider being an organ donor.
One organ donor can save up to eight (8) lives! That same donor can also save or improve the lives of up to 50 people by donating tissues and eyes!1
Remember -you can save a life -register to be an organ donor and Donate Life, today.
Learn how to register and become an organ donor from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Donate the Gift of Life.
1LiveOnNy: Organ Donation Facts and Information.