If you’re like me, the mere thought of organ donation conjures up a wide range of emotions. On one hand, to me, it’s an easy decision. Of course I’d donate my organs to someone in need if I no longer had any use for them. On the other hand, if I think about it too much, it kind of grosses me out. It’s hard to picture myself dead and imagine having my organs harvested. But then, since I am a practical person and am constantly harping on my kids to make logical decisions, I circle back to my first thought and give an enthusiastic (yet slightly terrified) ‘yes’ when the DMV asks if I’d like to renew my commitment to being a donor.
In the United States, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing, there are nearly 124,000 men, women, and children waiting for a transplant, and in Nevada alone, there are 594 people on the list. In 2014, Nevada saw 173 individuals receive transplants according to the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients, and in Washoe and Carson City combined, there were 29 organ donors, transplanting a total of 92 organs, according to Donor Network West.
As to be expected, there are some myths that arise with organ donation, so I went straight to the source, Donor Network West, to clear up any misconceptions. Donor Network West was established in 1987 to facilitate organ and tissue recovery for transplantation. They are a compassionate resource for donor families and partner with hospitals, coroners, medical examiners and more to facilitate organ and tissue donation.
You might have heard that medical professionals will not work to save your life if they see that you’re an organ and tissue donor. This is not true. Medical professionals are dedicated entirely to saving the lives of their patients and are not involved in organ or tissue donation or transplantation. How about this one: someone who is older or with chronic medical conditions cannot become a donor. The truth is that very few medical conditions arise that might disqualify someone from being a donor. Or, how about that certain funeral arrangements, like having an open casket, are not possible if someone becomes a donor. The truth is, an open casket is possible alongside organ donation.
I saw a graphic recently that made me laugh. It was a picture of a dog, lying with its limbs splayed in every direction. It was as if the dog had lost all motivation to do anything but lie there. The caption was something along the lines of “I can’t adult today.” While I know that organ donation is the last thing anyone wants to think about, it’s one of those adult conversations that needs to be discussed with loved ones. Put yourself in the shoes of one of the 594 Nevadans waiting for a miracle. If you could potentially save their life, wouldn’t you want to?