Monday, December 31, 2012

The Dark Side of Sod...7

The Gift of Life

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

What is the Gift of Life? To some, it is an extreme sacrifice for a family of a life lost that is laced with terrible grief. To others, it is an answer to prayer… life at the end of the tunnel…a second chance.  The bittersweet miracle of the Gift of Life is that someone had to die in order to be a donor and help someone else.  Did you know that there is a difference between Organ donation and Tissue donation? But right now, if you were asked the question…Would you be a donor or would your family members want to be a donor? What would your response be?  ”YES… ABSOLUTELY!!!”, “I don’t know.”, “I’m not sure, maybe?”, ”HELL NO!!!”, “I don’t think so.” “Let me think about that…”

Whatever your response is, it doesn’t negate the fact that organ and tissue donation does help people, it saves lives, and it is the most priceless GIFT there is to give another human being. When the donation is successful, life is grand for the recipient. The surviving family does get some satisfaction knowing that they helped someone else and in some ways keeps the person alive.

James had been suffering from a major organ failure. The only way he could live would be to receive an organ transplant. He was dying…and there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. He was desperate and very sick. Knowing his name was on the list was terrifying for him, yet he remained hopeful that someday he would get a one last chance, to have a chance at living. Then he got a call…

Faith had been working late all week. She just wanted to get home and spend some time with her fiance. With no plans for the weekend, and not wanting any, she was looking forward to some serious “down time’. She never made it home. Then her parents got a call…

There are a number of different scenarios that determine what or how organ & tissue gifts are given. In Faith’s case, because she was not married, her parents made the decision to donate her organs and tissue. (You can imagine how difficult this situation is for them) James received the donation he so desperately needed to sustain his life. Faith ultimately continued to live on through the life of James. James continued to live his life, because of Faith.

There is a process involved on both sides of the donation. Of course there’s paperwork to do, decisions to be made, emotions to deal with… and just because you say you want to be a donor, doesn’t mean at the time of your passing you will be.  The circumstances of your life at the time of death will ultimately dictate the results whether a person can or can’t a person be a donor.

TIME and timing are of the essence when donations are procured.  Where you die and how long you are deceased when found will also be a deciding factor as well. Your medical condition, history and social behaviors are carefully considered. The final decision basically rests with a person’s individual circumstances.

Organs like the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys cannot be given unless you are on life support and in a hospital setting. Tissues like skin, eyes, cornea, heart valve and ligaments, can be donated for a limited period of time after your death and are procured at a funeral home or hospital.

Having a donor heart symbol on your driver’s license means you are giving your permission to gift or use your organs/tissue. Again, it does not guarantee the outcome.

You can also change your mind either way (before your death of course) about being a donor. Change your license and  make sure whatever you choose, you inform the people in your life that will be notified when you die, so they know how to respond appropriately.

Funeral home care centers are where restoration is done. The main objective for the Mortician is to make the deceased look as natural as possible.  So if someone wants a traditional funeral service where the body is viewed by the public, the public would probably never know the deceased was a donor. Fulfilling the wishes of someone at their death if they chose donation in their life, is comforting for the surviving family, and is also a way to celebrate the deceased’s life.

I write to you today because you really need to consider the question. Hospitals will ask a person’s next of kin to make a decision on behalf of the deceased if they have no previous instructions. That’s a tough deal if no one knows how someone felt about it. Everyone needs to understand fully what it takes to be a donor, and what it takes to receive a donation.

There are countless resources on the internet to educate you about the process. If you have questions about the position your religion or church has regarding Organ or Tissue donation, please check with the appropriate clergy to clear up any concerns you may have.

There are no costs involved for the family of the deceased when a donation has been accepted.  I could go on & on…the Gift of Life is so special and so are the families that choose to give.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a huge thank you as well for the fine folks who procure the donation from the deceased. Because of the time factor they have to get to the donation very quickly. Sometimes in the middle of the night, jump in their car or fly to a location to get the tissue so that someone can get better. We don’t think about them, or at least you never hear of anyone talking about these soldiers. Without them, the process would not happen.

Be well friend and best to you in the coming year.

PS…Anatomical or full body donation is another subject all together. Please contact me if you would like more information on the process and who to contact.