Monday, May 12, 2008

In defense of LifeSharers

In a column in the Jackson Sun urging everyone to sign up to become an organ donor, Peter Watson discusses LifeSharers.

Mr. Watson disagrees with the LifeSharers approach. He writes that LifeSharers “totally discounts a person's reason for not donating. Maybe their religion forbids it. Maybe they are medically unable to donate.” Every major religion supports and encourages organ donation. No one is medically unable to offer to donate, because no one can say if your organs will be transplantable when you die. Surgeons keep changing the definition of what is transplantable as the transplant waiting list continues to grow. They are now transplanting lots of organs they would have rejected just a few years ago. The bottom line is that you can either offer to donate your organs to save your neighbors’ lives, or you can refuse. There are no good reasons for not donating.

Mr. Watson asks: “should people be denied life-saving treatment just because they have decided not to become a donor?” Of course not, and LifeSharers does not advocate denying medical treatment to anyone. But there aren’t enough organs for everyone, so giving an organ to one person means someone else won’t get it. It makes perfect sense to give organs first to organ donors, as a way to encourage more people to donate.

Mr. Watson writes: “Organs should be allocated based on who needs them most, not on whether that person is a donor.” This is a nice theory, but that’s not how it works in the real world. Organs are allocated based on several factors that often override need. Organ donor status should be included in organ allocation because doing so increases the number of organs that can be allocated.

Nothing could be fairer than giving organs first to registered organ donors. If you’re not willing to donate, why should you be at the front of the waiting list if you ever need a transplant? Giving an organ to someone who refuses to be an organ donor is like giving the Powerball jackpot to someone who didn’t buy a ticket.

Mr. Watson writes: “Deciding whether to donate one's organs is an extremely personal decision.” So is the decision about who will get your organs if you donate them. If you defend someone’s decision to not donate, you must also defend someone else’s decision to donate to other organ donors.

Every year over 8,000 Americans die waiting for organ transplants. These deaths are not the result of an organ shortage. They are the result of an organ donor shortage. Only about 50% of adult Americans have agreed to donate their organs when they die. Every year 20,000 organs that could have saved their lives are buried or cremated instead.

That’s why LifeSharers advocates giving organs first to registered organ donors. Giving organs first to organ donors will convince more people to donate, and that will save more lives. It will also make the organ transplant system fairer.

The national transplant waiting list will soon reach 100,000 people. Most of those people will die waiting. If you are a registered organ donor you are part of the solution. If you are not a registered organ donor you are part of the problem.

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donatelife said...

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Dave said...

I found you via a Google blog search on organ donation.