By Ernst Lamothe Jr.
In the United States, the most commonly transplanted organs are the kidney, liver, heart, lungs, pancreas and intestines. On any given day there are about 75,000 people on the active waiting list for organs, but only 8,000 deceased organ donors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hospitals are required to have written agreements with organizations that coordinate organ and tissue donation and recovery.
“Organ donation allows you to save someone’s life and become an impact to their future,” said Eran Muto, emergency room physician for Rochester Regional Health. “When you lose a loved one, it is difficult but the opportunity to give back and be part of a strong network of people who have done the same is an incredible feeling. I speak from experience when it comes to this.”
Muto wants to offer people five thoughts about organ donation.
1. Hospitals will attempt to save your life regardless.
When you go to the hospital for treatment, doctors focus on saving your life. You’ll be seen by a doctor whose expertise most closely matches your particular condition and who can give you the best care possible. An individual must be in a hospital, on a ventilator and pronounced dead in order to donate organs. The organ donation program is not notified until life-saving efforts have failed. The transplant team is not notified until permission has been given by a member of the deceased family or has been previously decided by the patient as indicated on his or her license.
“It is our duty to give you the best possible care imaginable when you enter a hospital,” said Muto. “We will perform every life saving measure for everyone, including those who are organ donors. You don’t have to be afraid that you won’t receive great care.”
2. Religious beliefs don’t exclude organ donations.
Organ donation is consistent with the beliefs of all major religions. These religions include christianity, hinduism, buddism, islam and judaism. However, if you’re unsure or uncomfortable with your faith’s position on organ donation, ask a member of your clergy.
“I went to a lecture, and when you see the five major religions make statements in support of organ donations, then you know religious beliefs should not be a hindrance to your decision,” said Muto. “No religion claims that organ donations limits where your soul goes after you die.”
3. Organ donation sign up is easy
Signing up on your state registry means that someday you could save lives as a donor by leaving behind the gift of life. When you register, most states let you choose what organs and tissues you want to donate, and you can update your status at any time. You can sign up at the Department of Motor Vehicles or online. Anyone over the age of 18 is eligible to sign up.
“It will make the process easier by eliminating any surprises to your family and clearly states your wishes,” Muto added. “This takes the burden off your family to make a decision when they are dealing with one of the hardest moments of their lives already.”
4. Organ donation changes lives for the positive.
Muto has first-hand understanding of this. Her husband was a trauma critical care surgeon who died suddenly from a brain aneurysm in 2012. His story did not end there because he was an organ donor.
“We were always supportive about organ donation,” said Muto. “We had a desire to do it because we knew what impact it would have. My children and I attend organ donation fundraising walks and when you are walking next to someone who had a lung transplant and they are side by side with the families who donated these organs, there is a sense of family and support.”
5. Hospitals need to educate their staff
Muto said hospital staff should know the most updated information about organ donation. Patients may have essential questions and they might be looking to the hospital staff.
“I think it is our responsibility to make sure we are educated about the process. Some people don’t think you can donate if you have certain medical conditions or once you reach a certain age. But there are opportunities such as skin or cornea donations,” said Muto. “Time is of the essence when it comes to organ donation so it is important if someone wants to be a candidate that they are identified as soon as possible.”