The hard part about becoming a potential organ donor is not the registration process, which nowadays really couldnt be easier.
And there really is little doubt that donated organs will make a difference for someone.
A nationwide network connects donors with those in need. Organs, skin, tissue and even bones can be efficiently and effectively transplanted to literally give recipients a fresh chance at life.
It really has changed dramatically, says Sam Davis, director of professional service for the Indiana Organ Procurement Organization. Its no longer a guessing game. They really do save lives.
The hard part, for many, is simply discussing the commitment with their family.
People in the United States dont like to talk about death, Davis says. We dont like to talk about wills or funerals – much less whether our organs and other body parts could be used to save lives. Many of us still believe that when they die, its best for their loved ones to make that decision.
But leaving that choice to a family member in a moment of grief and perhaps shock is not the best idea.
There just isnt a lot of time for the family to piece it all together, Davis said. Typically, it happens very quickly.
Sunday, The Journal Gazettes Julie Crothers told the moving story of three families whose daughters died in an apartment fire here in 2009. All three were donors, and their families have heard firsthand stories of the effects their gifts had on transplant recipients lives.
Doctors were able to use skin, tissue and bones of one of the victims, Lara Punches, to help dozens of people in need.
I envy those people who got those pieces of her, said her mother, Martha, because they got a little piece of my baby. But its about being unselfish enough to say I want my child, my daughter, I want some way for her to live on.
There are many myths about organ donation. Being a donor does not mean that doctors wont make all possible efforts to save your life. Nor does it mean that your body will appear disfigured at the funeral home.
You dont have to be in perfect health to donate. Or even young, although that used to be the case. Some years ago, Davis says, there was a realization that physicians were making a mistake in judgment by refusing organs just because of age. Now, according to IOPO, 10 percent of its donors are older than 65. There are people who donate kidneys well into their 70s, Davis says. (Of course, those older organs may wear out sooner than younger ones, so those kidneys will likely go to someone closer to the same age.)
The point is, no one should rule himself or herself out. If the day ever comes, doctors will make those decisions about your specific body parts and the specific needs of those on recipient lists.
And make no mistake, the need is there, every day, in every community. There are more than 1,400 people on IOPOs waiting list, including 118 in Allen County. The organs to save or cure them could come from anywhere in the national organ transplant network.
Some 3.4 million Hoosiers are already listed as donors. You can be part of that life-changing, life-saving network as well.
Ask to be designated as an organ donor when you renew your drivers license. Or do so online, at www.donatelifeindiana.org/register. Or call this toll-free number: 888-275-4676.