Editorial: Receive a License, Become a Donor

For teenagers, receiving a driver’s license is a memorable and significant milestone. While this marks a newfound sense of independence, it also comes with the responsibility of making an important life decision. This is likely the first time that a teen is asked to make a choice on whether or not to become an organ donor.

While it is easy to quickly check the “yes” box while registering for your license, according to Donate Life America over 57 percent of individuals 18 years and older nationwide have opted to leave it blank, despite the fact that 90 percent of Americans are in support of organ donation. Each person who chooses to not become a donor has his or her own personal reasons, including fear, religious affiliations, or just a general lack of knowledge on the subject. But the truth is these personal reasons are oftentimes based on misconceptions. This can cause well meaning people to overlook the tremendous opportunity to give another a second chance at life.

In fact, an organ and tissue donor has the capacity to impact up to 50 lives. Just about any organ and tissue type can be used, including skin, lungs, intestine, bone, arteries, eyes, and bone marrow. The process begins once someone performs the altruistic act of enrolling in his or her state’s donor registry when obtaining or renewing a driver’s license or by going on-line. After a person dies or is nearing death, the hospital contacts the Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) to check the registry to see if the patient is enrolled as a donor. Then the OPO contacts the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, to search for a possible match. According to Donate Life America, there is an 80-90 percent transplantation success rate. So when you’re 16 years old and rejoicing that you passed your driver’s test, try to remember that taking two seconds to check the donor box has the possibility of saving another’s life when you’re gone.

The sad truth is that there are over 117,000 people in America waiting for organ transplants and tragically, more than 7,000 Americans die every year due to the lack of available organs. When becoming a donor is as easy as checking a box on your license registration, why would one refuse?

Some people mistakenly believe that doctors wouldn’t work as hard to keep them alive if they knew they were potential donors. However, this is not the case. The reality is that doctors always focus on saving your life and not another’s. Surprisingly, there is no age cut off for being able to donate. According to the Mayo Clinic, organs have been successfully donated from people in their 70s and 80s. Thus, almost anyone has the chance to unselfishly turn around another’s life.

An additional myth that persists is that one’s religion could prohibit a donation. But in actuality, organ donations are consistent with most religions.

And while some may become squeamish when picturing their organs being removed, it may help to remember that it’s a miracle that something extraordinary can come out of such a tragedy. Perhaps the best reason to become an organ donor is that some day you or someone you love may be in need of an organ transplant.

 

  The Editorial Board Voted 7-2

in favor of becoming an organ donor