At TheHealthBoard, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
Around the world, many people are encouraged to consider organ donation to save the life of another human being. The process of donating an organ most commonly occurs after the donor has died, although there are some instances in which a living individual can donate a kidney, section of intestine, or area of skin to someone in need. When organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, or kidneys are harvested, a transplant team removes them from a brain dead patient and transplants them into the body of someone in need. In the United States alone, 77 people get a new organ every day, and 29 people die because they were unable to get organs.
The most important reason to consider organ donation is that you can save someone's life. It can give someone in need a new heart, liver, or set of lungs, and many transplant patients go on to live long, successful lives after their transplant surgery. You can also make a big different in someone's life by donating optical material such as corneas, passing the gift of sight on to someone in need. Organ donation is also used to harvest skin for burn victims, intestinal material for people who have experienced abdominal trauma, veins and arteries, heart valves, bone, tendons, and pancreas. Especially if you are in vigorous health, these body parts could be a boon to someone after your death.
Most major religions are supportive of organ donation, although if you are concerned, you can contact a religious authority in your area. Bioethicists and medical doctors also stand behind it, and a single organ donor can make a difference in the lives of many people. While the process is invasive, it is very respectful, and the body is suitable for viewing after organs have been recovered. There is also no cost to the survivors of the donor for recovering organs.
Some people who are questioning organ donation for themselves have expressed concerns about medical ethics surrounding the process. As a potential organ donor, you should know that the first priority of medical personnel in an emergency situation is to save your life, or the lives of your loves ones, not to take your organs. If all efforts at saving your life have failed and you have been declared brain dead, the steps involved in the organ recovery process can begin, but not until then. Your survivors will also be consulted before any organ recovery takes place, even if you have expressly directed that you wish to become an organ donor.
Many parts of the world offer organ donation registration with identity cards such as driving licenses. However, it is important to talk over your wishes with your family members as well, and you may want to consider registering with an organ transplant or donation network. They can provide you with an additional donor card detailing which organs you wish to donate, along with your blood type, so that a match with a potential transplant candidate can be quickly made.