On Donations of Life


Take a look at how varied the rates of organ donation are in this country. They vary from less than 10% of licensed drivers to over 72% of licensed drivers; from 19% of the population to 89% of the population.

This is sort of a follow on from yesterday’s post about flea markets.  There’s no telling where my mind will go once it starts moving in any given direction.  Thinking about how different parts of the country handle such things as charitable donations got me to thinking about other kinds of donations, particularly those that I am personally committed to:  Organ Donation.

I don’t know your personal position on donating organs.  119000-transplant-patientsIt’s a topic not spoken about very much and I think even less so as people age. As our personal introduction to the Grim Reaper nears it seems fewer of us want to talk much about what happens to our body when we die.  But the rude fact is that even in death we can benefit others; by making the gift of organs to help save the lives of others.

Donating a  liver or a kidney or corneas or tissue sounds like a gruesome thing.  And while it’s easier to talk about what we do with those pictures on the wall that Aunt Gertrude gave us that we never liked; or clearing out the kitchen cupboards of those old pots and pans that we replaced with a new set of stainless steel cookware — still whether we let those things go to waste in a trash bin, or sell them to a reseller, or donate them to someone who has needs — those decisions are equally personal and usually equally private.

But I wish for a moment you’d think about talking about organ donation publicly.  Did you know that if you:

  • donate your organs you can save the lives of up to 8 people
  • donate your corneas you can give the gift of sight to up to 2 people
  • donate tissue you can heal the lives up to 75 people


Little things like what to do with that extra Pyrex measuring cup, or those pairs of denims that no longer fit — those are super simple.  But the idea of someone cutting into your body (after you are dead and won’t feel it anyway) in order to save someone else’s life are thoughts that many of us don’t want to face. It’s interesting that i places like screen-shot-2017-03-05-at-11-09-41-pmCalifornia where personal image is such a big deal that only 30% of drivers are registered as organ donors, or that just about 1/4 of the population of New York state are organ donors.  Can you imagine how many more lives could be saved if more people in states with such huge populations were moved to benefit others when there is absolutely no harm to themselves (being dead) ????

More than 123,000 Americans are currently waiting for
lifesaving organ transplants, but 21 patients die
each day because there aren’t enough organs to go
around. New research shows wide variation in the
number of eligible organ donors whose loved ones
consent to organ donation across the country.
Donation consent rates are highest in the
Midwest and lowest in New York State,
according to a study by researchers from the
Perelman School of Medicine at the University
of Pennsylvania and the University of
Kansas Hospital in the new issue of
the American Journal of Transplantation.

You may realize that there is a huge disparity between people wanting donations and those offering donations.  In states like California and New York where you have a combination of huge population (and hence huge need) and low donation rates that means that the donations in other parts of the country are called upon to fill the void in those states — and also that the time from death to surgery is increased making success more of a sticky issue.  If the donation rates in those states alone were increased by the residents of the state everyone would be better off.

We happen to be from an area where there is a strong donation history.  Heck, it’s not just organs.  My phone used to ring regularly every 12 weeks to remind me to go into the Blood Center of Southeastern Wisconsin to give blood.  It doesn’t take long, but we can help save people’s lives.  Now, with the meds I’m on I can’t do that anymore.  I miss the feeling of helping out, and if I can encourage only one person to become a regular donor I’ll feel better about no longer being able to donate.

Organ donation isn’t an easy thing to think about, but please do.  Help bring life and healing to someone — some people — who are absolutely dependent on the gift of an anonymous donor.

Thanks for stopping, and for considering.  I hope you’ll take the next step and sign up as a donor.  Put that little sticker on your driver’s license, and tell all your family and loved ones of your desire to be an organ donor.


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