Monday, September 27, 2010
Don’t let myths sway your organ donation decision
From a young age, I have always been a proponent of organ and tissue donation, and working in a hospital setting has only solidified my feelings. In June of 2001, the issue took on even more importance for my husband and I.
My mother-in-law was in need of a kidney transplant due to uncontrolled high blood pressure. The call came late at night. A kidney became available and she was on her way to the hospital.
I was uncertain if I should be happy or sad. In order for my mother-in-law to receive a kidney, someone had to die.
I admit I was happy that she would see her first grandchild, but what was that other family going through? Who was this family that decided to be so selfless?
Many of us do not understand organ and tissue donation and there are many myths that surround this issue. Hare are some facts according to Donate Life Connecticut:
• When receiving or renewing a Connecticut state driver’s license, you will be asked if you wish to become an organ and/or tissue donor. The information you provide goes into a donor registry database accessible by the organ procurement organization (OPO) in the event you become a potential donor. If you answer, “YES” to the question, this is considered legal consent for donation.
• Anyone age 18 or over can also sign a uniform donor card. If you are under the age of 18, at least one parent or legal guardian must be a co-signer. A signed donor card is also legal consent for donation. You should also make your wishes known to your family.
• Organs that may be donated following death include: heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, pancreas, and small intestine. Corneas, skin, bone, heart valves, connective tissue and blood vessels are all examples of tissues that can be donated after cardiac death.
• Total body donation for medical research and education is also an option.
• There is no age limit for organ donation. Patients’ medical histories are more important than their age.
• Efforts to save a person’s life are not lessened if hospital staff knows you have a signed donor card or are on the donor registry. The goal of emergency medical personnel and hospital staff is to save your life. The organ and tissue donation team does not become involved until after it has been determined that all efforts to save a patient’s life have failed.
• There is no cost to the donor or their family for organ and tissue donation.
• Qualified doctors perform removal of organs and tissues and open-casket viewing can still take place.
I thank this family for the gift of life given to my mother-in-law. We all have the power to donate life.
For more information on organ and tissue donation, go to Donate Life Connecticut. http://www.ctorganandtissuedonation.org/home.html
Lisa Cook is a registered nurse with the Backus Hospital Education Department. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.backushospital.org/backus-blogs or e-mail Ms. Cook or any of the Healthy Living columnists at email@example.com