Graphic by Valerie De La O.
Organ donation isn’t something the typical person thinks about on a day-to-day basis. However, for some, organ transplant consumes every thought, every day, for their entire lives.
I know organ donation consumes my every thought. I received a heart transplant in July of 2012; I was one of the ones lucky enough to receive the organ that I needed. However, since then, I have seen friends pass away because they didn’t receive their needed organ in time.
There are only 10,120 registered donors in the United States, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. Unfortunately there are 114,479 people currently waiting for a life-saving organ.
Because of this, about 20 people die each day due to not receiving a needed transplant. That is why I argue that organ donation registry needs to be opt-out instead of opt-in.
Most people register to be donors when receiving their driver’s license. They check the little box in the midst of all the excitement that is learning to drive, getting a license and, usually, turning sixteen.
An opt-out policy would mean that instead of having to check the box to indicate you were willing to be a donor you would have to check one that would notify that you weren’t.
According to Stanford University, in countries where the opt-out policy is implemented, such as Australia, over 90 percent of people donate their organs. Conversely, in the United States, less than fifteen percent of Americans choose to donate.
One of the main reasons people don’t sign up to be an organ donor is due to the misconception that doctors will not work as hard, or even work against, saving the life of a patient if an organ is needed. This belief is widely drawn from medical shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy.”
According to an article in the Atlantic, more than half the population received information regarding organ transplant through television; it makes sense that these fears would be imbedded in someone.
However, as Donate Life explains, doctors, nurses, and hospital staff do not have access to the donor registry. Organ donation also has to follow very specific guidelines, which results in only 1% of people end up donating organs after death. More frequently a patient will suffer from brain damage or participate in living donation.
So although the opt-in policy may not be in place in the United States yet, and you may not have checked that little box when getting your driver’s license, it’s not too late to register.
According to Donate Life America, registering takes less than a minute. All you have to do is go to their website and fill out your information.
Each person that chooses to donate their organs can save up to eight lives. Eight people waiting, and thinking, and hoping someone will choose to give them the gift of life.