Have A Heart
Medicine has evolved since the days of bloodletting, but from the perspective of a waiting recipient on the organ donor list, we still live in the dark ages. With a list of 110,941 hopeful candidates for organ transplant, the status of organ donation as a taboo subject in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) has left an average of 20 people dead each day.(1) The high demand and low supply has led to creative solutions from both medical and government sectors, but what’s the answer? Is government intervention necessary, or should the fed keep their laws off my liver?
While the fourth annual National Donor Designation Report Card prepared by Donate Life America shows 94.7 million people were enrolled in state donor registries at the end of 2010,(2) it still doesn’t address the need that exists today.
The shortage of organ donors in the U.S. is a problem. There are many factors that lie behind the reasons for shortage. From socioeconomic and demographic factors to religious beliefs, candidates just aren’t surfacing like they could.(3)
“All the doctors and nurses I know are donors,” says Dr. Joshua Gitter, a practicing M.D. at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, California. “We can’t be the only ones providing organs here, ya know? The general public needs to step up.”
The reason organs are in chronically short supply is partly due to the U.S. policy that requires voluntary giving. Dr. Gitter says most organs for transplant come from accident victims, who become brain dead after serious head injuries. These victims are typically put on life-support, and the next of kin's consent is required to turn off the machine and donate the organs.
Dr. Gitter says there are usually good chances of receiving donations from the families of accident victims, but each case changes on a family by family basis. Studies have shown the chances of donation from families who had prior knowledge of the patients’ wishes...