Thursday, October 11, 2007

Organ Donation

Many people are uncomfortable with organ donation. They don't want to think about their own death, or don't like the idea of being all "hacked up". Many more aren't ready to think about this topic immediately at the time of their loved one's death, or are concerned about violating a loved one's wishes.

Here's something you may not know: if you do want to be an organ donor, you had better alert your family of this because once you are gone, the decision is basically theirs. It doesn't matter if it is on your driver's license. It doesn't matter if you are listed with an organ donation registry. At the time of your death, if your next of kin isn't agreeable to the donation, it doesn't happen.

The other day, a thirty-something male intentionally overdosed on cocaine. His dingbat girlfriend drove around with him for several hours before bringing him in to the ER. By that time he had suffered a major stroke. After several days in the ICU, there was nothing left that we could do. He had no will, and unfortunately, his next of kin was his 18 year-old daughter. She wasn't very close to him, and definitely wasn't prepared to make any decisions. Eventually, life support was withdrawn and he died. Despite being listed on his license as an organ donor, his daughter had never discussed his wishes with him, and she wasn't comfortable making that decision. I don't blame her. She's very young, and it is a difficult predicament to be in. However, at the same time, the guy was fairly young and healthy, and at least his death could have helped several people.

Talk to you family or spouse, whatever you decide.


~~Silk said...

Jay wanted to donate everything, and I was willing, but when it came time, the doctors said no. Even though his brain cancer doesn't metastasize (sp?), he'd had so much chemotherapy, and had been more than a week into massive organ failure, and there wasn't anything useful left. Not even skin. His body had died long before he did.

There's a brain cancer brain bank in Washington DC, but they couldn't get anyone here in time to collect, and no one local would take the responsibility.

We had banked sperm beore the first chemo. I kept it for a few years, and when I realized I wouldn't be able to use it, I tried to donate it - and no one wanted that either, partly because of his autism diagnosis, partly because of the brain cancer.

What a waste.

ru said...

I think organ donation is one of those things that is hard to talk about because it makes mortality so real. There's also no guarantee that the people you leave behind will be in the right frame of mind to grant consent

Chris said...

I have stated clearly in my will, that upon my death, a portion of my assets will be used to obtain a pipe-organ for a local church.

Oh...not THAT kind of organ donation.

Seriously, there is no question among my family. We talk openly about it and have written it up in our legal papers.

Shazam! said...

Shame on the doctors for making the daughter feel like it was her decision. While the next of kin do help guide decisions, it is vital to remind them that they are not making the decision...they are only carrying out what the deceased had already decided.