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This is why you should become an organ donor

Infographic by Madeline Klayer, Source: Melissa Muniz
Screen Shot 2019-11-13 at 1.57.15 PM
Infographic by Madeline Klayer, Source: The Atlantic 

   Y. One letter that appears on your license that can be an indicator of if you will donate your organs or not after you die. What happens to us after death can be a touchy subject, and we often decide to avoid the reality of what occurs if we were to pass in an accident or from old age. A significant amount of people shy away from donation for a variety of reasons, many of which are myths that are important to be debunked.

  According to The Atlantic, only 45% of American adults are organ donors, which is part of why the waiting list for vital transplants is up to 114,000. Twenty-one of those on the list die every single day, just waiting.

   Nolan Frederick, science teacher, is one individual who was personally driven to become a donor because of a story he heard on the radio. “They told the story of a mom whose 26-year-old son was killed in a car accident, and they took his heart and put it in a 55-year-old man who had been on the transplant list for years,” said Frederick. “The mom went to this man’s house to hear her son’s heart beating inside his chest. This man was given a second chance at life, when otherwise, that heart could’ve ended up in the coffin and not helped anyone.”

   Not everyone has this sense of motivation to help others, which can partly explain the disparity between those who simply support organ donation and those who actually register: we are unconcerned until it impacts us personally. Death also tends to make us uncomfortable, and according to the Atlantic, only 25% of us make plans for a premature death.

   We call this uneasy feeling the “ick factor” – just the thought of what happens after death makes us skeevish. “Maybe it’s just the thought of having your organs taken out of your body, even though you’re dead. Some people just can’t handle the dissection idea of it,” said Frederick.

   Personal beliefs or certain religious values can be an understandable excuse to say no to donation, but it is important not to believe blatant myths and lies. More than half of Americans get their information from television shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy”, which has led to a widespread false mistrust of the health system. However, shying away from those lies can do more good than you can imagine.

   In fact, you can improve as much as 75 lives and save eight lives with organ and tissue donation, according to the Mayo Clinic. A common myth is that hospitals won’t work as hard to save your life if they know that you’re a donor. Samantha Johnston, senior, said, “I wouldn’t want them to look at my ID and put their need for organs above saving my own life.” The Mayo Clinic assures that this is untrue, and that doctors will always put the needs of their patient above anything else.

   In an extensive list by the American Transplant Foundation, they specify that you also shouldn’t believe these myths: I can’t have an open casket at my funeral, I’m not in good enough health for people to want my organs, the rich and famous go to the top of the list, my family will be charged, or I’m too young to make this decision.

   The reality is that high schoolers are not too young to decide how their body is used after death. “I think when you get a license, driving a car is a bigger responsibility than making the decision about what to do with your organs after you pass away,” said Frederick.

  If you have not already checked that box off at the DMV, let your family know your wishes or take initiative and go to www.organdonor.gov to register. It is time to get past the myths we see on medical dramas and make educated decisions that will alter precious lives in the future.

Madeline Klayer, Online Editor

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This is why you should become an organ donor