This morning I have a public service announcement for you, kids.
Please donate your organs. (When you are done using them.)
The organ donation system in the United States is far from perfect, but that doesn’t mean you should deny someone the gift of life. As someone who’s going to be needing a replacement organ at some point in my life, I can tell you that donating your organs is a superbly cool thing. Especially if you are young and strong and have an unusual blood type: someone, somewhere, could really make use of the body part that would be burned, preserved, buried, or whatever your plans are. I think it’s a really great idea to recycle at all levels, and the idea of a part of you helping someone else to live is really neat.
I would like to see some changes in the way organ donation and the waiting list are processed in the United States, to be certain. But part of the problem with the system is that there aren’t enough viable organs for all the recipients. Someone is going to lose out. The more people who donate, the more organs there will be. The more organs, the more reform, is the hope.
Your organs might not be usable, due to damage or age or not having a matched recipient, but it’s a good idea to fill out that donor card anyway. In some states, you can also specify that your body not be used for cosmetic purposes, if the thought of inflating someone’s lips or ass isn’t appealing to you. But your organs can also be used to save someone’s life–burn victims need skin, people of all ages need heart and kidney transplants, new livers and lungs, corneas. So think about it. Talk it over with those who might be having to make decisions at the end of your life, and decide for yourself if you want the chance to save someone’s life.
A few years ago, I attended the funeral of a young man I went to high school with. In an utterly bizarre series of events, he was killed in a car accident. A totally innocent bystander, but totally dead nonetheless. He was airlifted and medical personnel attempted to save him, but it was determined he couldn’t survive without life support. His family decided to withdraw support, but also to donate his organs. One of his organs was designated for a family friend, who wrote a touching letter which was read at the funeral thanking him for his gift. His other viable organs were distributed to those in need, another of whom also wrote a letter of thanks. The end of his life was a tragedy–the thought that his heart still beats somewhere in the heart of a young person is the silver lining.
Organ donation: all the cool kids are doing it.