“Don’t think of organ donations as giving up part of yourself to keep a total stranger alive. It’s really a total stranger giving up almost all of themselves to keep part of you alive” (~Author Unknown). Organ donation is the process of surgically removing an organ or tissue from one person (the organ donor) and placing it into another person (the recipient).
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This is necessary when the recipient’s organ has failed or has been damaged by disease or injury (Cleveland Clinic). Organ donation has been a huge advantage in modern medicine. But the number of organs needed outweighs the number of actual donors. Every day in the United States 21 people die awaiting organ donations. And more than 120,048 men, women, and children await life-saving transplants. It’s like WOW, it should be an eye opener to all that we need to make a difference. People need help, and all deserve to have a chance at life. Who can donate? People of all ages should consider themselves as a potential donor. Donors can either be alive (only donating half/portion of an organ), or deceased (donating a whole organ). Most donors are deceased, but in certain cases live donors are acceptable.
Potential donors are evaluated based upon medical history and age. Whether a person is eligible or not, we should take that extra step and at least get evaluated to see if were healthy enough to donate. Taking that step shows initiative, and what if it’s your family member? People just think organ donation as no big deal, but over 120,000 awaiting donations is a huge deal. Who can donate is one thing, but knowing how is another. There are several steps that need to be taken to make people aware that you are willing to donate. First, join a donor registry (MVA always asks) when getting a license in the MVA they always ask “are you willing to donate your organs”. If Yes, a heart symbol will appear on your ID meaning that you are a potential organ donor. Just the testing needs to be done to qualify you as a gift of life to others.
Also, you’ll need to carry and sign an organ donation card. And letting family members/loved ones know is a must also. When a death occurs, the hospital will offer this as an option to the family. If given prior consent from the patient, it gives families the okay go ahead to make ethical decisions based on the patient’s wishes. First we gather and evaluate are potential donors, then pick out the ones that can donate. But then we need to figure out what can be donated. Recently a lot more parts have been added to the list that can be donated. As modern medicine today gets a greater outlook and more medical technology arises we can make better ethical decisions on what can be donated. Organs from a deceased donor can be kidney (2), liver, lungs (2), heart, pancreas, and intestines. Live organ donors can donate (1) kidney, a lung, and a portion of liver, pancreas, or intestine. Donating corneas is a bit different in terms of the non-specific terms of donation. Donors don’t have to match the “recipients”. Age, eye color, and eyesight doesn’t matter in terms of cornea donation. Most people can donate if they are disease free. For example, HIV and hepitis free.
More than 95% of cornea transplants have been successful. Tissues can save or dramatically improve the quality of life. Heart valves can save children with heart defects, and adults with damaged heart valves. Skin can save patients with serious burns and infections. Bone is used to help enhance patients with total replacements. Especially knee patients, it’s a more enhanced way of improving the quality of life as opposed to putting artificial parts in the body. The risk of artificial parts is the act of the body rejecting them. Replacing tendons can help repair damaged joints, which will lead to the decrease in arthritis. Arthritis is very common and is the inflammation of one or more joints anywhere in the body. Treatment can help, but there’s no actual cure for this. Arthritis can last for a few years to a lifetime depending on factors like age and medical history. Most people can donate tissue, but it must be inherited within 24 hours of death. But, it can be stored for a good amount of time. There has been over 30,000 tissue donors that have made a difference. Hands and face transplants have been just recently added to the transplant list. It’s a very complicated procedure called vascularized composite allograft (VCA). Composed of transplanting bone, muscle, nerves, skin, and blood vessels. All these things must be transplanted together to make the procedure successful.
As of Jan 2018, less than 200 of these surgeries have been performed around the world. But they are transforming lives, and will continue to do so. They are more of a recent transplant added, so the need/desire for them will arise as more people continue to see the positive/successful outlook they have among people. There are no costs associated with organ donations. They are free to donate and receive, the need for them just keeps drastically arising. The only cost is the funeral expenses for the deceased donor. Quality of life does not have a price tag; everyone deserves to live a good life. Donors make a tremendous impact, and the recipients are very grateful although they may never know who donated the specific organ to them. Unless it was specifically a family member. So, I need an organ donation, and now what do I do? Get on a national waiting list! Patients must visit a transplant hospital. And must apply through the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).
Every transplant hospital is a UNOS member. Transplant doctors will examine and decide if you’re a good candidate. Each hospital has a different criterion, all depending which organ/tissue is needed, and the amount that’s needed. If patient appears to be a good candidate, they will be placed on a national waiting list. There is absolutely no way to know/predict the waiting time. The name will be added to a pool of names. When an organ becomes available, all patients within that pool will be assessed based upon who the organ matches best (blood type, organ size), and the urgent need for it. The doctors need to make sure the patient body will either accept or deny the transplant based on the above criteria. Within organ donations this is crucial because the transplant wouldn’t be worth it if the body just rejects it. An example of practical bio medical ethics is a 25 y/o patient named JD who sustained massive head trauma and neurological injury in a motorcycle accident.
He’s not brain dead, but he will remain in a vegetative state on life support. Being in a vegetative state is a chronic state of brain dysfunction which a person shows no signs of awareness. The prognosis for a “meaningful recovery” for JD is less than 1%. Regarding his parent’s religious aspects, they have decided to “pull the plug”. Which is the act of taking a patient off all lifesaving equipment and letting them pass peacefully. They are allowing to let whatever happens to happen, and to release JD in god’s hands. As paperwork and everything began to be gathered hospital officials came across a heart and organ donation stamp on JD’s license. This was a representation of first person consent, and this is what he wanted but his parents weren’t aware.
And they were so against the idea. JD was to get tested for possible organ donation, but there was no convincing them. The case was left here, there was no response to this issue. But, my response would be that the grieving process sure is hard and I couldn’t imagine the pain and the thought of “taking the organs out of my son’s body” but also I need to respect his wishes. If he has the heart and desire to help others, then we need to respect that. We can’t be selfish; he is our son and will always have that special place in our heart. To conclude, ethically there are a lot of issues that arise when the topic of organ donation comes about. There is so many people out there today that need these organ transplants, but there is not enough for everyone. Thus, these poor people’s lives are taken because they cannot function with these necessary organs. And it’s truly sad, but as an ethical standard more awareness needs to be made to show the importance of organ donation. You’re not just donating an organ to a stranger, you’re saving a stranger’s life. Everyone no matter gender, race, and or religious aspects they all deserve a chance at life.
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