Don’t let tragedy decide for you, become a donor

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Most people don’t realize that upon their death, they can save or help as many as 50 lives. They can donate their organs and tissues when they die. They can even be a live donor of a kidney or a part of their liver, pancreas, lung or intestine in addition to stem cells, marrow, platelets, whole blood and blood products, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Most everyone can donate, yet the number of people who need organ donations goes up much faster than the number of people who are willing to donate.

Corey Bennett, a 20-year-old student at Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, was in an accident in high school and now only has one kidney.

Even though he was in a life-threatening situation involving loss of an organ, he has decided not to be an organ donor.

“I think [organ donation] is a noble cause and very important, but I just wouldn’t do it with my body,” Bennett said.

Everyone is entitled to their beliefs and feelings, but I don’t understand how he could be so close to needing an organ donation yet choose not to be a donor himself.

Neither he nor his parents believe in organ donation.

Once you have a personal experience you’d think it would change your mind.

Until 60-year-old Bob Nally was faced with liver failure, my family didn’t give organ or blood donation a second thought. Bob Nally is my dad.

He is very sick and finally on a transplant list for a liver. He has a genetic disease called hemochromatosis, which causes his body to absorb more iron than it needs and stores it up in his organs, especially the liver, heart and pancreas, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

“I can get a call that there is a liver available any minute now,” Nally said. “But if my kidneys fail, I’m all done.”

He undergoes constant, invasive and often painful testing of his blood, oxygen, heart and kidneys to gauge the progression of the disease. He is on oxygen full time and he can no longer work. Even with health insurance, his doctor and medication bills are astronomical.

It’s a waiting game. He hopes he’ll be healthy enough for long enough to get the call, a call that unfortunately means someone with O negative blood, has died and selflessly donated their organs.

Eighteen people die every day waiting for transplants that won’t take place because there aren’t enough donors, according to www.Organdonor.gov. This is bad news.

There are more than 100,000 people waiting for a transplant yet there were only 14,144 organ donors in 2011, according to Donate Life America. More bad news.

Patient survival of liver transplants after a three-year period is more than 75 percent, according to Stanford Liver Transplant Services. A 75 percent chance of living is better than a 100 percent chance of dying.

After my family realized the seriousness of my dad’s declining health, I became an organ donor and a blood donor.

Marlana Burton is a Blood Source phlebotomist. While she took my blood during the recent CRC blood drive she talked to me about her personal experiences with friends and family who needed transplants. Their experiences helped form her opinion about organ donation.

“I always felt it was the right thing to do,” Burton said.

Hannah Chick, 18-year-old general education major, said that donating blood is a family thing. She just hit the gallon donated mark and her dad is over 20 gallons. She’s also an organ donor.

“If someone needed my organs to live, and I’m not using them anymore, they can have them,” Chick said.

At first she didn’t want to be a donor.

“I thought it would affect how my body looked at an open-casket funeral,” Chick said.

The morbidity of using someone else’s body parts like Frankenstein did for his monster may keep some people from thinking about donating their organs or those of a dead loved one.

Fearing death keeps people from thinking about dying and keeps them from making decisions like becoming an organ donor.

When you are faced with the mortality of your dad, your hero, you’re forced to take stock and make plans.

“The hardest thing is mental,” Nally said. “You know without the transplant you’re going to die.”

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