Sunday, May 8, 2011

Myths of Being a Registered Donor

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As many of you know, I’ve been working since February 28, 2011, to help my brother Kevin find a live kidney donor. He’s been on the transplant waiting list at Penn Transplant Institute for 3 years, to no avail.  There simply aren’t enough cadaver donors in this country to meet the need.

While an overwhelming majority of Americans know about the concept of being an organ donor in death, only 30% of American’s know how to register as an organ donor.  This makes me wonder if misconceptions are preventing people from registering.  Perhaps I can dispel some of those myths!

1. “They’ll remove my organs before I’m actually dead” No organs are removed from a donor until a variety of tests, performed over time, confirm that the patient is brain dead with no hope of recovery.

2. “The recipient will end up knowing who I am” Donor information is kept private! Only with the surviving family’s approval, would the donor name ever be released to the recipient.

3. “If I’m critically injured in an accident, they won’t fight to save me because I’m a registered organ donor” The doctors working to save any patient in a hospital emergency room, are completely separate from the transplant team.  In fact, the transplant team is unaware of incoming patients until such time as tests determine a patient to be brain dead and quite often, when the family informs the hospital that the patient is a registered organ donor. 

4.  “I don’t have to register as an organ donor, I’ve got it in my will”.  By the time any will is usually read, it will be too late to donate any of your organs or tissues.  That’s why its important not only to register with your state as an organ donor, but also to discuss it with your family so that they’ll know to honor your wishes at the time of your death.

5. “If I’m an organ donor in death, my body will be so disfigured my family won’t be able to have an open casket at my funeral”. Any surgery to remove organs is done respectfully, and does not preclude having an open casket.

6. “I’ve had many medical problems in my life, I’m sure my organs wouldn’t be suitable for donation”. Illness doesn’t necessarily exclude all organ or tissue donations.  Each patient is evaluated at the time of death to determine the viability of any donation.

7. “My religion doesn’t approve of organ donation” Most recognized religions today accept and commend organ donation as a personal choice and as an gift of charity and compassion.

Whether or not you choose to be a registered organ donor is a profoundly personal decision.  But know that in death, you could potentially save 8 people! 

If you haven’t already, won’t you please register so that even in death, you can give the gift of life?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Organ Donor Recognition!

Since 1994, the Federal Government-through the US Dept. of Health & Human Services, Department of Transplantation, has worked with national and local organizations, to recognize the amazing gift of life by live donors and donor families. Every other year they host the National Donor Recognition Ceremony and Workshop.  This year the event will be held July 15-17 in Washington DC.

The National Kidney Foundation has been an active co-host of this event since 1995.  The NKF hopes to empower live donors, donor families and transplant recipients, to become advocates for live donation and to increase designated organ donor registrations. 

This biennial event’s recognition ceremony will honor great heroes who have saved someone through live donations as well as pay tribute to those who in death, gave the gift of life!   

The workshops offers support and educational topics for donors, recipients, families & the medical professionals who care for them.  The workshops will also provide tools to help promote live & deceased donation on a local level.

Some of the topics covering Live Organ & Tissue Donation include:

  • New Developments in Organ, Tissue, and Cord Blood Donation
  • Life after Donation: a Workshop for Living Donors
  • Living Donation, expectation and reality (Sharing Session)
  • Power of One: Getting Involved and Making a Difference

All of the nation’s living donors, donor families and friends are welcome to attend the National Donor Recognition Ceremony and Workshop! Registration is free! The only expense attendees are responsible for is travel, meals & lodging.  Click here for the event pamphlet and registration forms.

kevinruncloseupI have been working since February 28, 2011, to help find my brother Kevin, a live kidney donor.  Kevin has been on the transplant waiting list for more than 3 years.  At this point in time with his health declining, his best chance for survival is to find a live kidney donor.  If you’re interested in helping Kevin, please read “The Evolution of Hope.” To see if you could be a match for Kevin, fill out the Live Kidney Donor Referral Form & fax it to Penn Transplant Institute

Donate Life!