Are you registered as an organ donor?
According to Donate for Life if you are, you’re in the minority. Only about 40 percent of us have taken the time to register as an organ or tissue donor. And yet when Donate for Life, a national organization working to increase the awareness of the benefits of organ donation, takes it surveys, nearly 90 percent of us claim we support organ donation.
Why is that? Is the difference just laziness?
It’s really very easy to add your name to the Nevada donor registry. The Nevada Donor Network is located at2061 E. Sahara Ave., in Las Vegas. It’s just a phone call away at (702) 796-9600. And you can tell your Hispanic friends the Spanish-language hotline is (702) 796-8222.
Or, you can sign-up to be a donor next time you renew your Nevada driver’s license. It will be marked right on your license.
No, laziness likely isn’t the reason most of us haven’t signed up. Maybe we’ve seen too many creepy movies, where mad doctors harvest the organs of their poor victims. Or maybe you’re concerned that your doctor won’t put out as much effort to save your life if he knows you’re a donor and your organs will save the lives of several other people. That’s what many people have told Donate for Life.
But that’s an unfounded fear. Physicians are professionals who will do everything possible to save any life.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services doctors could save 18 more lives each day if there were more organs available. But the shortage is huge.
The department estimates that today there are 113,000 sick people are awaiting organs. There’s no shortage of people dying in this country. And many of those deaths could result in donated organs.
Maybe it’s how we handle our donor programs. It’s called “opt in.”
That means you must choose – take affirmative action – to be listed as an organ or tissue donor.
Several countries have changed to an “opt out” system. That means people must specify while alive that they do not want to be considered as an organ donor.
Donate for Life notes that researchers at Columbia University have shown that the opt-out policies for organ donation adopted in Austria, France, Belgium, Hungry and Poland have increased registration rates to an average of 98 percent of their populations, far greater than the 40 percent in theU.S.
None of us like to think about dying, so an opt-in system requires us to think about the eventuality and take the action to sign up. But an opt-out system requires no effort or thought.
And not checking a box to become an organ donor isn’t as likely to make a person feel guilty, as it would to check a box to prevent it.
Proposed bills in Illinois, Pennsylvania and Texas to adopt an opt-out policy for organ donation have stalled in committee, so it doesn’t look like our nation is quite ready to switch to an opt-out system.
Maybe it’s just a matter of education. Donate for Life is working on that. And if you want to learn more, the Health and Human Services’ web site provides resources about ways to support organ donation, state registration and provides information for starting the conversation with your family. Surviving family members can overrule your pre-death request to be an organ donor. So you must discuss the decision early. Visit http://www.organdonor.gov/index.html.
But maybe education won’t help.
Maybe we have seen too many creepy movies.