Organ Donation

Harry Wilson is one lucky man; even Harry\'s doctors cannot believe how lucky he is. You see, Harry, at age 54, was dying. He had to have both of his kidneys removed, they were failing and he had been on an organ donation list for the past two years without success. Harry\'s children were tested for compatibility but without success. Harry\'s own brothers and sisters were tested for compatibility but still no success. Now you may ask, how in the world could anyone consider Harry Wilson lucky? Well Harry Wilson got married about three years ago to Mary Smith. It was a second marriage for both and they obviously loved each other very much. But that was only a small part of Harry\'s luck. The doctors decided to test Mary for compatibility and it was a complete match. In fact, the doctors could not believe that two people, who were related by marriage only, could have such a perfect blood and tissue match. Consequently, the surgery was scheduled. Harry\'s two kidneys were removed and replaced by one of Mary\'s kidneys. Now they both have one kidney apiece and both are doing very well living together in Cadillac, Michigan. After the surgery, the doctors told Harry that he would never have received an organ donation in time. Yes, Harry Wilson is one very lucky guy. Organ failing deaths can decrease if more organ donations are made.
Modern medicine has altered the definition of death and made the barrier between life and death less clear. It used to be that one was pronounced dead when their heart stopped beating and they had stopped breathing. Death today is defined not by heart beats and respiration but rather by one\'s brain waves. Doctors measure these brain waves with machines known as EEG machines. When an EEG shows a flat line, this means that the patient\'s brain is dead. Brain death is when the brain has stopped maintaining controls of all other bodily functions. Advances in technology have now made it possible to maintain respiration and circulation artificially in persons who are considered dead so that their organs can be removed and used to save someone else\'s life (Landau). This technology is called artificial life support systems. Life support systems are used on patients with brain function when the physician is actively treating the patient. They are also used or continue to be used for organ donation when the patient has become brain dead. Society struggles with the understanding that when someone is brain dead and being maintained on life support systems that allow their heart\'s to beat and their breathing to continue, that patient is never coming back. The conflict in the definition of death arises when the opportunity of organ donation is presented.
Throughout the nation, there are not enough transplantable organs to go around. Statistics show that the majority of people in the United States are willing to donate their organs upon death, and even more indicated their willingness to donate organs of a loved one if they know that was their wish. More than half of the eligible donors refuse to donate their recently decreased family member\'s organs because they don\'t know how the decreased felt about organ donation (MacPherson). In June of 1998 there were fifty-nine thousand nine hundred fifty-four patients across the nation waiting for an organ transplant and last year nineteen thousand nine hundred sixteen patients actually received transplants (Frei). Unfortunately less than one-fifth of the American people actually sign donor cards (Fentiman). Every 18 minutes another person is added to the waiting list. (Frei). In the four days a high school student is given to research organ donation forty people died waiting for organs, but why?
Many myths are associated with organ donation. Myths on organ donations are created due to lack of knowledge. More and more evidence suggests that Americans are either unaware of the organ shortage or are confused about the donating process (Perry). One myth is that there are many people in the nation pledging their organs upon their death. Unfortunately the truth of the matter is there are not enough organs donated annually to supply the medical demand. "Some five thousand Americans need new livers. Only half will get them this year; close to