Put your heart, or other organs, into National Donor Day

Here's information on the process of donations, as well as some misconceptions

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by Colleen Steele |

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Most people are good. I truly believe we’re better than what we ingest daily from the local, national, or world news. But what often keeps us from proving it is a lack of inspiration and information. Allow me to offer you a bit of both.

Today is Valentine’s Day, also known in the Christian faith as Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine. It’s a love-inspired day that everyone can observe, but many ignore because they think it requires having a significant other. But we’re all significant, and love should be about kindness and generosity, not just romance.

Feb. 14 is also National Donor Day, which focuses on all types of donations — organ, eye, tissue, blood, platelets, and marrow. Like Valentine’s, it’s a love-inspired day that everybody can contribute to, but an alarming number of us do not. True, unless you’re a living donor, you might never know the person you’re helping or saving through organ donation — but it’s the act of love that’s significant, not whom it’s directed toward.

Figuratively or literally, the thought of giving your heart to someone can feel scary. Love and organ donation require bravery, empathy, and understanding from both the giver and the receiver.

Instead of a box of chocolates this Valentine’s Day, I’m offering you inspiration and facts to encourage you to register today as a loving organ donor.

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“You are a piece of the puzzle of someone else’s life. You may never know where you fit, but others will fill the holes in their lives with pieces of you.” – Bonnie Arbor

According to National Today, 120,000 people in the U.S. alone are waiting for organ transplants. One donor can save eight lives and enhance the lives of 75 more, according to Penn Medicine, yet the need for donors is greater than the number that exist.

Most states allow you to choose which organs and tissues to donate or to donate everything usable. The major organs (heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, and intestine) are potentially usable, but so are tissues (corneas, skin, veins, tendons, bone, heart valves, and connective tissue).

It’s easy to register as an organ donor. You can do it online or in person at your state department of motor vehicles. National Today points out that you don’t have to carry or show your donor card if you’re registered with your state. “Should you die in a hospital or after being on life support,” the website says, “the hospital then arranges for your donation.”

Discussing organ donation with your family is important, so they understand your wishes. You can always change your mind about being a donor, but your family cannot change it for you if you’re over 18. Donor Alliance explains, “As an adult (18 years or older), your decision to be a donor is a first-person authorized advanced directive. Just like a will, this decision is legally binding and cannot be overridden by your family.”

As long as everyone is well informed about organ donation before a life-or-death situation, this concern shouldn’t be an issue.

Misconceptions and accusations about donation

“Without the organ donor, there is no story, no hope, no transplant. But when there is an organ donor, life springs from death, sorrow turns to hope and a terrible loss becomes a gift.”the United Network for Organ Sharing 2009 Annual Report

Many people think they’re ineligible to donate organs because of their age or health. This isn’t true! If a patient dies from pulmonary hypertension (PH), for example, their lungs and possibly heart might not be viable for transplant, but other organs, eyes, and tissues could be. A diabetic person might not be able to donate their pancreas, but they could still donate their heart or lungs. According to LifeSource, “It is even possible for individuals who are HIV-positive to donate to HIV-positive transplant candidates.”

Transplant recipients can also be organ donors. Regifting organs might not be possible, but a deceased transplant patient can pay it forward by donating other body parts.

Organ donation is often riddled with false accusations, such as the concern that physicians won’t try hard to save your life if they know you’re a donor. National Today points out that this thought discounts the No. 1 priority for doctors — saving lives.

The need continues

“Don’t take your organs to heaven. Heaven knows we need them here!”Maxie Scully

Organ, eye, and tissue donation and transplantation are permissible within most religions, including Christian denominations. The Vatican, for example, views it as an act of charity and love that is morally and ethically acceptable.

“The value of life is not in its duration, but in its donation.” religious leader Myles Munroe

Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.


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