When you get your driver’s license, one of the questions that you’ll likely be asked is if you wish to be an organ donor. By having this marked on your license, authorities can begin the process of saving your organs should an unforeseen event occur to you without having to get the permission of your designated loved ones. Time is often of the essence to preserve an organ so that it can be donated to someone else so that their life may be saved, which is why so many people choose to donate their organs. Some people may have health issues that prevent organ donation, while others may have ethical issues.
Here Are the Pros of Organ Donation
Just one organ donation can save up to eight lives. How it saves lives depends on the reason for the transplant. For some, it may mean the discontinuation of costly routine treatments to continue life, such has kidney dialysis. For others, it could mean the gift of sight is restored. Critical organs, like the heart, can provide a longer lifespan for those who receive the organ. With over 100,000 people in the United States alone waiting for a transplant, there is a great need.
For those who have lost a loved one, organ transplants provide a sense of continuation of those that have been prematurely lost. A donated heart continues pumping in the chest of someone else, meaning a small piece of that loved one continues to survive and thrive, even if they are not physically alive any more. This can provide an immense sense of comfort.
Some organs can be donated without a tragedy too. Portions of the liver, pancreas, lung, and intestines can all be donated, as well as an entire kidney, with a minimal risk during the surgery of complications. This often occurs on a family-to-family basis, but it is not unheard of for strangers to donate organs to other strangers.
Here Are the Cons of Organ Donation
For those that are not medically restricted from donating organs, the primary issue that families have with it is an emotional one. Bodies are often kept on artificial life support to keep the organs alive, meaning that a heartbeat and other body functions may still appear to be functioning. Organs are never medically taken unless there is no brain activity whatsoever. This is confirmed before the process of organ donation begins.
Some families also may struggle with who receives the donated organs. There are stigmas that people sometimes have against different races, religions, and ethnicities that may be found to be bothersome. This social issue can even be enough to prevent people from choosing to be organ donors at all because they cannot guarantee who would receive their organs should something unforeseen happen.
Is Becoming an Organ Donor Right For You?
Not everyone can become an organ donor, so the choice isn’t always available to everyone. For those that can donate organs, however, the fact that up to eight lives could be saved because of something you chose to do means that your gift of life can continue to provide life, even if you are gone. That’s why so many people choose to become organ donors.
And while surrogate mothers surely welcome such payments, they are hardly the only factor in the decision; many say they are motivated by a strong desire to help another woman fulfill her maternal dream. At first, organ compensation, like surrogacy, would seem odd, but then it would become more generally accepted.
“The more Satel talked,” Mr. Cohen wrote, “the less selling my kidney seemed like some bizarre, macabre act of depravity, and the more I wondered why the hell I hadn’t thought of it before.”
Dozens of readers must have wondered the same thing. The first to write me was a mother of four named Jessica from Washington State. Several months ago, her youngest child was born prematurely and suffered major complications. “The reason I am telling the story,” Jessica wrote, “is because we spent everything we had in savings, pulled money from retirement, etc. ... to allow me to pay for day care so I could spend every day in the NICU.”
She continued, “I would seriously consider donating to someone who may die without it if it meant it helped save them and helped my situation also.”
Chip from Arizona was in a similar position. “In the past I have very seriously considered ‘donating’ an organ for compensation as my life is financially in ruins, to put it mildly.” He went on, “And to me, it makes better sense to ‘donate’ a organ than to go rob a corner gas station or liquor store for grocery money — safer too, for everyone, not to mention the ability to save/improve someone else’s life in the process!”
The messages kept coming.
“I am in good health and very interested in donating. Due to financial burdens, being compensated would be very helpful, and my organs could also benefit the receiver.”
“I was making $ 100,000 a year, and now I am not working. ... So yes, I would sell a kidney to someone who needs it.”
A number of writers rightly pointed out the need for strict protections for the donor, including careful education, medical and emotional screening, follow-up care and an enforceable contract to ensure the promised compensation.
Organ selling as a sign of the recession? No question. But it is much more than that. Almost every writer spoke of helping someone else, of combining financial with humanitarian motives.
The desire to do well by others — for pay — is as old as humankind. Think of firefighters, police officers, doctors and teachers. Their service is no less valuable because they are paid for it.
Yet it is all too easy to romanticize altruism. The “gift of life” is indeed precious; I received it. But I am not so starry-eyed about my good fortune that I am blinded to the reality that altruism is not producing enough organs: 83,000 Americans wait for a kidney; 13 will die today while waiting.
Sadly, the transplant establishment insists that sick people languish on dialysis for years or die waiting for a kidney. They fear, on one hand, that the patient might remunerate someone for saving his life and, on the other, that any donor in financial need can’t possibly make a rational decision about his own best interest.
The solution to this lethal paternalism, as I and others have argued, is not to create a direct exchange of cash for kidneys, but for Congress to let donors accept a carefully devised and regulated government benefit — perhaps a tax credit, a contribution to a retirement plan or early access to Medicare.
People like Jessica and Chip could get some help with bills. Desperate patients would be rescued from suffering and premature death. In reciprocity is salvation for both. There is nothing bizarre or macabre about that.Continue reading the main story