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Kids Should Get Organs So Should All the Rest

Posted Jun 12 2013 9:44am

girl needs transplant 3 girl needs transplant 2Transplant experts agree to special consideration for kids

The board overseeing organ transplants in the U.S. voted on Monday to allow special consideration for children needing lung transplants after the families of two dying children filed suit. http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/10/18888114-transplant-experts-agree-to-special-consideration-for-kids?lite

The real story behind this sensational headline is that we have a severe shortage of transplantable organs that results in the deaths of 20 Americans of all ages every single day of the year.  Somehow, though, the big picture, the view from 50,000 feet gets lost in the clamor to save the lives of helpless, dying children.  We could save their lives and a lot of others if more Americans became organ donors — but let’s get back to the headline story and then discuss the bigger picture.

While today’s story appears to be good news it could also signal that people with the ability and resources to generate publicity favorable to their issue can cause decision making bodies to change policy.

I am and have always been of the opinion that younger patients should always be favored when organs become available but nothing is that simple.  There are a number of factors that go into the decision to transplant an organ and the age of the proposed recipient is but one of them.  Others include the size and condition of the organ, blood type, tissue match and the distance from the donor (some organs cannot survive outside the body long enough to travel great distances.  A heart in San Francisco likely cannot be sent to a patient in New York and maybe not even as close as Omaha).

I understand and sympathize with the public outrage over children who are dying because they can’t get organs to keep them alive.  I understand and sympathize with parents who will go to nearly extreme to save their children’s lives.  I, too, would seek relief from the courts.  These parents are doing what parents ought to do.  What I don’t understand is why the politicians and the media place so much emphasis on a short term fix for a few and ignore the long term solution for the many — which is to increase organ donation.

The problem is that while most of us have good intentions, we just don’t follow through.  Polls continually indicate that over 90% of us think organ donation is a great idea but available data suggest that only about 40% of eligible organ donors actually sign up.

The decision noted in the posted story could represent a double edged sword.  The experts who are members of governing bodies should rely on their expertise, experience and science to make decisions and not be swayed by political or public pressure.  Sometimes politicians and public opinion are wrong and when that’s the case the experts have to stand up to the pressure.

I would readily give up my spot on the transplant list if it meant a child could have an organ instead of me but the choice is rarely that simple.  I have a feeling that this move by “Transplant Experts” is window dressing because reality suggests that if organs don’t match, if they are too large, or if they don’t meet other criteria children will still be left waiting.

I don’t know much about most things but I do know a little about organ transplants being as I got a new heart in 2007. It took me 12 years to get on the national transplant list but only 13 days to get a new heart…I got lucky.

 In order to be listed for a transplant you have to be at an “end stage” in your disease.  That means physicians have to certify that you will die without a transplant.  Everyone on the list is dying and there are about 120,000 Americans who qualify but only about 28,000 transplants are done each year.  You do the math. Thousands die each year because of a lack of transplantable organs.

So, my friends with good intentions of becoming organ donors please know this.  Good intentions won’t save a single life.  If you are one of the 90% who believe that organ donation is a good idea but also belong to the 60% who haven’t signed up, do it now.  Just go to www.donatelife.net and follow the instructions.  It only takes a minute or two.  Then, then tell your family of your intentions.

The question I hear most often is, “If so many believe in donation, why aren’t they donors?”  I think the answer is quite simple and two-fold.  1) People don’t like to think about dying and 2) They don’t think they will die anytime soon so, “What’s the rush?”

The regrettable fact is that death can strike unexpectedly and if you are not an organ donor your organs likely will be buried with you.  Each year thousands and thousands of perfectly healthy transplantable organs are buried because the deceased person just “didn’t get around to becoming a donor.”

I hope that everyone who reads this lives for a very long time…but just in case, why not register now?  One organ donor can save or positively affect the lives of up to 60 people.  An expression often used and very true is, “Don’t take your organs to heaven; heaven knows we need them here.”  Good advice.  Register today www.donatelife.net

Bob Aronson of Bob’s Newheart is a 2007 heart transplant recipient, the founder of Facebook’s nearly 2,500 member Organ Transplant Initiative and the author of most of these donation/transplantation blogs.

You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at bob@baronson.org. And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love.

Please view our new music video “Dawn Anita The Gift of Life” on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYFFJoHJwHs .  This video is free to anyone who wants to use it and no permission is needed. 

If you want to spread the word personally about organ donation, we have another PowerPoint slide show for your use free and without permission. Just go to http://www.organti.org and click on “Life Pass It On” on the left side of the screen and then just follow the directions. This is NOT a stand-alone show; it needs a presenter but is professionally produced and factually sound. If you decide to use the show I will send you a free copy of my e-book, “How to Get a Standing “O” that will help you with presentation skills. Just write to bob@baronson.org and usually you will get a copy the same day.

Also…there is more information on this blog site about other donation/transplantation issues. Additionally we would love to have you join our Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative The more members we get the greater our clout with decision makers.

En Espanol

Puede comentar en el espacio proporcionado o por correo electrónico sus pensamientos a mí en bob@baronson.org. Y – por favor, difundir la palabra acerca de la necesidad inmediata de más donantes de órganos. No hay nada que puedas hacer lo que es de mayor importancia. Si usted convence a una persona de ser donante de órganos y tejidos puede salvar o afectar positivamente a más de 60 vidas. Algunas de esas vidas pueden ser personas que conoces y amas.

Por favor, consulte nuestro nuevo video musical “Dawn Anita The Gift of Life” en https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYFFJoHJwHs YouTube. Este video es libre para cualquier persona que quiera usarlo y no se necesita permiso.

Si quieres correr la voz acerca de la donación de órganos personalmente, tenemos otra presentación de PowerPoint para su uso libre y sin permiso. Sólo tienes que ir a http://www.organti.org y haga clic en “Life Pass It On” en el lado izquierdo de la pantalla y luego sólo tienes que seguir las instrucciones. Esto no es un espectáculo independiente, sino que necesita un presentador pero es profesionalmente producida y sonido hechos. Si usted decide usar el programa le enviaré una copia gratuita de mi libro electrónico, “Cómo obtener un pie” O “que le ayudará con habilidades de presentación. Sólo tiene que escribir a bob@baronson.org y por lo general usted recibirá una copia del mismo día.

Además … hay más información sobre este sitio de blogs sobre otros donación / trasplante temas. Además nos encantaría que te unas a nuestro grupo de Facebook, la Iniciativa de Trasplante de Órganos Cuantos más miembros que obtenemos mayor será nuestra influencia con los tomadores de decisiones.


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