Today is not only Valentine’s Day, but it’s also National Organ Donor Day. Organ donation may be something that you really haven’t put much thought into. Most people don’t until they are either on the receiving end of needing a transplant or experiencing the death of a family member.
This post won’t have any pretty pictures or anything like that, but I just wanted to take a few moments to encourage you to think about organ donation and discuss it with your family.
During my years as a critical care nurse too many times, traumatic injuries resulted in brain death. Brain death in itself is so difficult for family members to deal with. But this is the time the organ donor coordinator has to approach the family. It’s hard to talk to families when they hear the topic out of the blue and have to discuss it for the first time ever.
Many family members just can’t or won’t discuss it at all. Some need to be approached several times before they can make a decision. It’s a very difficult time for all involved.
You can check the box on your driver’s license, but it’s still ultimately up to the next of kin to decide on organ donation at the time. The little red heart at the bottom of a driver’s license is the person’s agreement to be an organ donor.
So you can see why it’s so important for people to make their wishes known to their family members. It makes it so much easier to have a conversation about organ donation if the family already knows that the patient wants to be an organ donor.
You can learn more about how to be an organ donor by going to the national organ donor site. There will be answers to all your questions like who can donate, and who cannot. When most people think of organ donation, they probably think only of hearts, lungs, kidneys, and eyes. But organ donation can cover so much more.
My driver’s license is checked to be an organ donor. It has a little red heart bottom right. I hope that my family will honor my wishes at the time if I am a candidate for donation.
Just think of how you might be able to help someone struggling with a terminal condition. Put yourself in that person’s shoes. Can you imagine what it must be like, to wait for a transplant?
Have you known someone who has been the recipient of an organ transplant? I think that having a friend or family member who has benefited from an organ transplant is probably the most helpful thing to make one consider being an organ donor.
My nursing experience changed my thoughts about a lot of things. Organ donation was one of them. Wearing a seatbelt was another thing I changed my mind about! Take care of a few patients in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit with a head injury, spinal cord, or broken bones and you’ll decide to wear your seatbelt too.
We had a very good friend who had a heart transplant many years ago. He did well and continued to work for many years after his transplant. He received a gift that gave him years with his loving family and he got to watch his grandchildren grow up. I never know the story behind who his organ donor was, I’m not sure the family knew either. He had many good years after his transplant but succumbed to Covid a couple of years ago. His truly was a remarkable transplant success story and I know he was grateful for every day that was added to his life because of the donation.
He would have died many years ago had it not been for the decision that some family member(s) made. It was probably the most difficult time of their life, but they decided to give the ultimate gift. They made their loved one an organ donor.
So pick a time to talk about being an organ donation with your family. Why not today!