Each day, 18 people die waiting for an organ transplant. It’s a scary thought: waiting and wishing for help to arrive and not knowing if it ever will.
The line on the waiting list is long. Throughout the United States, the list exceeds 120,000 people. Right here in Alabama, the list is nearing 4,000. Picture yourself sitting in a packed college football stadium filled with its typical voraciously cheering crowd on Saturdays. Let that represent our country’s organ donation waiting list. Instead of a boisterous crowd, it’s a silent one hoping for the best.
Last year, Alabama had 104 deceased organ donors, which falls below the state average of about 120. You don’t have to think long on that number to understand why the waiting list is such a daunting figure.
Everyone is capable of improving this dire situation. One organ and tissue donor is able to save up to eight lives all the while enhancing and changing the lives of more than 50 people.
“These are ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” said Ann Rayburn, senior manager of professional education at Alabama Organ Center (AOC). “This is something that could impact people at any time without warning.”
Since 1968, Alabama Organ Center has been broadcasting the need for organ donors and showcasing how donors deserve a college football stadium crowd standing and applauding them.
“Ordinary people can make a difference,” said Beverly Berry, multicultural donation educator for Alabama Organ Center. “If no one ever donated, no one would get transplanted.”
Both Rayburn and Berry acknowledged that any death in the family is going to be tragic. Like many others, they look at organ donation as something good, capable of making healing easier – despite death, somewhere there is renewed life.
For the Alabama Organ Center, it’s about eliminating the deaths on the waiting list. While the advances in medicine and technology to make organ donation and transplantation possible are there, the need for organs and tissue dramatically outweighs the number available for transplantation. It’s also about providing good care to the families considering donation. The AOC wants the family to feel good about their decision the day they make the decision and into the future.
Part of the Alabama Organ Center’s mission includes dispelling misconceptions on organ and tissue donation. One of more common beliefs being if you are a registered organ donor the medical team won’t try to save your life – that couldn’t be further from the truth. A medical team not affiliated with the donation or transplant team makes the declaration of death.
Another misconception is that organ donation means body disfigurement, preventing the possibility of an open casket funeral. Organs and tissues are removed surgically while maintaining the respect of the body during the operation. So, it’s still possible for open casket funeral arrangements.
About every 18 minutes, a name is added to the organ waiting list and only 48 percent of Americans are registered organ donors (despite 95 percent of Americans saying they strongly supported organ donation in a 2005 Gallup poll). The need is there, and we must make the effort to fulfill the need.
Becoming an organ donor means one day you may give others a renewed chance at life. It’s the chance to do something good even after you move on.
To learn more about how to become a registered organ donor and donation facts, visit alabamaorgancenter.org.
By: Bradley MacDonald Source