Organ Donation: Write All About it!
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Profile photo of Laura Kolaczkowski

I’ve done it and the odds are you have, too – many of us have good intentions and when we get our driver’s license we check the box that holds the option to be an organ donor. We want to help and know there are so many people waiting for organ donations to heal their ill and broken bodies.

According to the DonateLife website –

Currently, nearly 124,000 men, women and children are awaiting organ transplants in the United States. For specific numbers visit unos.org.

    • Approximately 77,633 Multicultural Patients*
    • Approximately 2,146 Pediatric Patients*
    • 29,532 Organ Transplants Performed in 2014
    • 14,414 Organ Donors in 2014
    • More than 47,000 corneas were transplanted in 2013
    • More than 1 million tissue transplants are done each year and the surgical need for tissue has been steadily rising.

*as of May 2015

The number of people waiting for an organ includes a dear friend who is now on the list for a kidney transplant due to having Polycystic Kidney Disease, an inherited form that is estimated to effect upwards of one in 400 people in the US. Her mother, brother and other relatives have died from this disease and two of her siblings have had successful kidney transplants. In case you don’t know – kidney donations can be done from live donors, too.

I’ve talked about the importance of donating to the MS brain banks for further research but often that isn’t possible due to logistics. I’m unsure if people with MS even make good donors beyond our brain and spinal cord, since the cause of our disease is still unknown. From what I read online the answer is yes, but ultimately it depends if the recipient wants to assume whatever risk there might be with body organs from a person with MS. We can donate blood, but even some places hesitate to allow us to do that. And a lot of this decision as to whether those of us with MS can donate is dependent on what the local customs and doctors might say.

Even if we intend to be organ donors, ultimately the final decision rests with surviving family members – they are the people the doctors will approach for permission to harvest our organs. I heard a story on the radio a few days ago about how social media can help with this scenario. It seems our family still wants to hear our wishes from us, and doing so in our own words is proving to be effective. Doctors who are faced with talking to family about their loved one’s wishes are turning to social media to learn if we have been online and sharing our end of life wishes. They find our comments on Facebook, Twitter, through blogs and other online places are powerful words to guide families making this often tough choice.

Doctors are taking iPads and other portable computing devices to the family and showing them our words; doubts as to what we really want regarding organ donation can be erased by seeing our few strokes on the keyboard. If you have made the choice to be an organ donor, be sure you have made your wishes known to your family, and don’t hesitate sharing your intentions on social media. Take the time to let the world know you plan to be an organ donor, explain why and maybe even encourage others to make this choice.

Wishing you well,

Laura

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