Legislators in Connecticut, Texas, Colorado, and Pennsylvania have introduced opt-out bills, but so far without success.
When three Stanford social psychologists set out to understand the issue, they concluded that this was just another case of our tendency to stick to whatever is normal — the “status-quo.” In an opt-out country, the status quo is to donate organs upon death. In Austria, an opt-out country, people don’t see organ donation as a big deal — just normal. But in Germany, where you had to opt in, donation was considered to be a costly and highly moral act. The researchers concluded that if the United States switched to become an opt-out country, Americans would soon look at organ donation as Austrians do — as a minor matter — and we’d end up with more organs.
What organs can be donated?
You can donate a heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, and small intestines and save eight lives. Your cornea, skin, veins, heart valves, tendons, and ligaments can also be transplanted.
If you’re healthy, you can become a “living donor,” by giving a kidney, or a part of the liver, lung, intestine, blood, or bone marrow. One in four donors is not biologically related to the recipient
How to become an organ donor
It’s easy — sign up here. Most states include a question about organ donation when you get a license.
Don’t worry about your age or current medical history for a donation upon death — many conditions won’t rule out your organs, Klassen notes.
Why you should be an organ donor
That’s easy to answer, too: One deceased donor can save or improve up to 50 lives.
Addressing the most common reasons people hesitate, Klassen notes:
- Being a registered donor has absolutely no impact on how hard doctors will work to save your life.
- You can have an open-casket funeral — the body is treated with “dignity” and “care.”
- There is no cost to the family.
- Some people think that celebrities and wealthy folks are favored for organs — but that’s not the case. Doctors weigh each case by the chance of success and likelihood of the recipient dying without a transplant.
- All the major organized religions in the United States are in favor of organ and tissue donation.
This one choice could turn your death into hope and survival for up to 50 other people. It could be the most charitable act of your life.
April 07, 2020
Janet O’Dell, RN