Altruistic Organ Donation
“I lay beneath the white sheets in anticipation for the potential surgery I am about to undergo. As the anesthetist wheels me to the prep room, I am swept behind the surgical room doors. ‘Am I doing the right thing? Will I be okay?’ All of these questions and more bombard my mind as the darkness begins to slowly eat away at my vision. With the last visages of light I had found comfort ‘I am doing the right thing, I’m saving a life’. I become overwhelmed by the darkness and fall into a blissful, dreamless sleep soothed by the rhythmic beeps of the hospital equipment.” (Ogilvie). These are the collective thoughts of the 100 or so people throughout the U.S. who will donate organs to a complete stranger. People such as John Cooper, who decided to donate a part of his liver to a stranger his wife, Deb Cooper, heard on the radio telling his tragic theory about having a liver disease and needing a liver transplant to live. John had made a decision he would donate a part of his liver to this complete stranger. The road to becoming a donor however, is not so simple as just to do it.
John had endured various strenuous mental and physical tests. He had to travel 8 times to Toronto to see experts in all fields relating to his donation. He saw a liver expert, a transplant coordinator, two transplant surgeons, a family physician, an anesthetist, a psychiatrist and a social worker. He completed innumerable forms, took a stress test, gave more than a dozen vials of blood and had his abdomen screened from every possible angle by CT scan and ultrasound. After all of these tests it was concluded that John was not an adequate match for the radio stranger though he was still elgible to be a donor. He decided to proceed anyway, “After you get involved, how can you say yes to one person and no to another?”(Ogilvie) His wife said. The Cooper’s were not strangers to being the victim of this type of situation. How would they fill if a possible donor of their situation refused to donate to them because the original intendee was not a match?
So what motivated John Cooper to do this seemingly self-less act and what solidified his decision to do so?
The Cooper’s had had experience with liver issues in the past. Four years earlier youngest daughter, Emily, suffered from an illness known as autoimmune hepatitis. The condition results in the immune system attacking the liver. At one point in her illness a replacement liver was even an option. So obviously this tragic past had some influence in his decision to become a donor. When asked of why he did it John Cooper’s simple answer was simply, “There is no reason for me not to do this when there is someone who could be saved.”(Ogilvie) Psycho- analysis theory would suggest that he unconsciously wanted to be there for his daughter. The helplessness he felt during his own daughter’s illness was in a way alleviated by helping someone else. So while consciously he had no definite reasoning behind is actions other than the fact that, “There was no reason … not to do this.” Unconsciously he was saving his little girl.
John Cooper was not alone in his decision to become an organ donor. He sought the support of his family who graciously gave it to him, but unknown support came from his community. He was praised and even hugged by random people who had heard of his actions. The Cooper’s have in their home a hutch dedicated to holding the cards of those who wished him luck and a full recovery.
Another donor by the name of Kay Wolff had similar experiences to that of John Cooper, though her circumstances are a little more extraordinary. The strenuous appointments and tests were still a factor of her donation, she too sought the support of her husband, and she too had motives influencing her decision. What makes her experience extraordinary is that she is a 72 year old woman. Wolff had her own motives to donating an organ. 72 years of age without children, Wolff of course no...
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