Organ Donation: Why I Decided To Sign My Card

57 comments

1,647 people in Ontario are waiting for an organ right now.

Many of them will die before they even come close to the top of the waiting list.

  • 295 people are waiting for a Liver
  • 46 people are waiting for a Heart
  • 1189 people are waiting for a Kidney
  • 53 people are waiting for a Lung
  • 1 person is waiting for a Heart and Lung
  • 19 people are waiting for a Pancreas
  • 4 people are waiting for a Small Bowel
  • 40 people are waiting for a Kidney and a Pancreas

It really puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

There is a campaign going on right now by the Trillium Gift Of Life Network in universities around Ontario encouraging young adults to sign their donor cards.

IMG_6367 

Why Donate?

  • Everyone is a potential organ and tissue donor, regardless of their age. To date, the oldest Canadian organ donor was over 90 years of age while the oldest tissue donor was 102 years old.
  • Ultimately the ability to become an organ and tissue donor depends on several factors including the health of the organs and tissue at the time of death.
  • Recovery of organs and tissue is carried out with respect and dignity. It does not interfere with funeral practices and no one will know about your gift of life unless your family tells them.
  • Organs and tissue that can be donated after death include the heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, small bowel, stomach, corneas, heart valves, bone and skin.
  • Studies show that donating the organs and tissue of a loved one who has died can provide immediate comfort and long-lasting consolation to family members in their grieving.
  • There is also the possibility of making a living donation of a kidney or liver.

After watching this news segment, it hit me:

I had not signed my donor consent form.

I will admit, my reason was not a great one.

I was simply afraid to do it.

Plain and simple.

But after I read the statistics, I knew I had to put my fears aside.

I can only imagine how horrible of a feeling it is to be on a wait list and come to the realization that you are not going to have a transplant in time.

IMG_6368Or being the family member of a loved one who is waiting for an organ.

I went to the Trillium website, downloaded the form, filled it out, and walked it to the mailbox.

When I die, I would hope that something good could come out of it and one (or many) of my organs could potentially save another’s life or go towards research and education.

 

Why don’t they have an online form?

As I mentioned, you need to download the form, print it, and snail mail it in. I think that they would be much more successful with getting people to fill it out, if they provided an online submission form. I can see many people ‘not bothering’ to do it because you have to mail the form in. We are such a technology driven society that it really makes sense to have an online form. It could mean the difference of an extra 1,000 people filling it out, you never know! Just my two cents.

Deciding to become an organ donor is a very personal decision and not one to be taken lightly. I am not here to tell you to fill out a consent form. I am here to help spread the word of this campaign and provide you with the resources to make an educated decision of your own.

I think this is such an important topic that doesn’t get enough attention in the media.

For more information visit:

US Donor information: http://www.organdonor.gov/

UK Donor information: Click here

Canadian Info: http://organdonations.ca/

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Every man dies. Not every man lives. ~Tim Robbins

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{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kristen September 22, 2009

This is purely a curiousity question: what were you afraid of?

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2 Angela (Oh She Glows) September 22, 2009

I’m not really sure what it was from. Probably the unknown really.

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3 Kristen September 22, 2009

Thanks. I really was just curious.
I’ve never actually thought about NOT signing the card. My mum just kind of told me that it is what you do, so it is what I’ve always done. I’m going to be coming back to read the comments- hopefully people on both sides of the spectrum will comment :)

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4 Bridget September 22, 2009

Good for you Ange! I know what you mean…being unsure and all.

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5 Alex@happygolucky September 22, 2009

Good for you girl- the back of my health card says I am donor. It is something I am really proud of…

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6 Jessica @ How Sweet It Is September 22, 2009

What a wonderful post. You are so right, and I’ve always been afraid of it, too. There always used to be the rumor that if you were in a car accident and barely surviving, they would let you die if they saw that ‘organ doner’ was on your card. How ridiculous. Go you! :)

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7 Lauren September 22, 2009

Angie,

You should not feel any guilt or shame for feeling hesitant about this. It’s completely justified to have to think this decision over and even if you would have decided not to donate, that it totally okay too!

Good for you for not taking this lightly. It’s definitely a serious issue and you totally proved that matters of life and death are nothing to brush aside without putting your heart into it.

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8 Jennifer September 22, 2009

Thank you for posting this, My sister had a liver transplant at the age of 5, after being on the waiting list for 4 years. Our whole family are truly thankful beyond words for the gift that she has been given, and although sometimes as a teenager she struggles (mostly with the amount of meds she has to take) She realizes how blessed she is.

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9 Molly September 22, 2009

Thank you Thank you Thank you… what a remarkable post. My sister had a heart transplant two years ago after a decade long illness. My family is beyond thankful for her chance a healthier life (though still quite challenging and filled with many meds!). Your words help bring such important recognition to something we’re scared to talk about. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your thoughts and fears!

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10 Nicole of Raspberry Stethoscope September 22, 2009

Besides any sort of religious issues, I never understood why someone would NOT be an organ donor. I mean, you’re DEAD!!!! You have no use for your kidneys, heart, corneas, etc…You’re D-E-A-D!! haha!!

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11 Angela (Oh She Glows) September 22, 2009

Jennifer and Molly – thank you for both sharing your stories…they brought tears to my eyes. I’m happy that both of your sister’s were lucky enough to receive a transplant!

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12 Leah September 22, 2009

I 100% agree with being an organ donor. I’ll be dead! Why do I need my organs?! I’d love to help someone else, even in the wake of my own death.

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13 Angela (Oh She Glows) September 22, 2009

I also think it would be an amazing feeling for the surviving family to know that their loved one went on to help another.

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14 Sarah @ The Foodie Diaries September 22, 2009

Absolutely! Not that anything cures the pain of losing a loved one, but I imagine this might at least ease it..

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15 jessica September 22, 2009

Ohhh is there an actual card now?? I have the cardboard card that I got with my health card renewal… but it;s kinda chintzy. Either way I have 2 signed by each of my parents and they know the deal: take whatever you need. :)

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16 Morgan September 22, 2009

Apparently it’s against Jewish religion to be an organ donor, but that doesn’t matter to me. To me, another person’s life is way more important than what some rabbis decided centuries ago. I’ve been an organ donor for as long as I can remember, and I have no plans to change that. I have some distant family that has dealt with organ donation, and it is truly a blessing and a gift.

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17 Pam September 22, 2009

Yeah three cheers for organ donation!!!! It’s really awesome that you are so honest with us! Thanks

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18 Runeatrepeat September 22, 2009

I did a story a few years ago on Donate Life – it’s the organ donor program in California. Go to http://www.donatelifecalifornia.org/ if you’re in California!

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19 Shannon (The Daily Balance) September 22, 2009

I just renewed my license and my organ donor status!

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20 Mara @ What's for Dinner? September 22, 2009

WTG!!! I’ve had my card signed since i got my license at age 16, and now i’m going to have to do it again when i change my name!

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21 Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) September 22, 2009

I’ve always been an organ donor and always think that if I died, I would hope my vegan heart goes to help someone who needs it, that my kidneys go to help someone who could use some help, and so on. I only hope that in that family’s time of hardship that my organ gift could help them out. :)

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22 Rebeca September 22, 2009

I signed mine too! What a fabulous post Ange!

Too often we get caught up in rumors and don’t do something that could save a lot of people. Yes, death is terrifying, especially the thought of our own and leaving those we love behind. What we need to remember is that if each of us could save 5 people in death so that 5 other families don’t have to go through that pain.

Love love love.

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23 Rebeca September 22, 2009

I mean… “then 5 other families won’t have to go through that pain”

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24 Meredith (Pursuing Balance) September 22, 2009

Wonderful! I definitely think this is important.

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25 Paige @ Running Around Normal September 22, 2009

Good for you for making that decision! Sounds like you checked all your facts first, too, Miss Researcher :)

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26 Abby September 22, 2009

Right as I was getting my driver’s license, my best friend was in the dying in the hospital while waiting for a multi-visceral transplant. When I looked at that form to be an organ donor, I knew I had to. If I died, I’d give a chance for Julie, or someone like her, to live. I signed that paper and never looked back.
Thanks for this post!

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27 Eliana September 22, 2009

Great!! Good job!

This post reminded me to print my donor card and put it in my wallet. It is the least we can do for others.

Very proud of you, my friend.

Eliana
>^..^<

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28 Cynthia (It All Changes) September 22, 2009

This was something I always knew I wanted to do. I can’t use my organs after my death and I want to give life to others if possible. I never understood people not doing it. Especially since all I had to do here in the US is check a box an its placed on my drivers licence.

It is important to also make your family and friends aware of your desires so that they will make the right choice when it comes to donation should the occasion arise. I’ve heard of instances where parent’s don’t want their child’s organs donated even if they child did and they make the wrong decision.

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29 Jess September 22, 2009

I was going to repeat cynthia’s suggestion to let your family and friends know that you want to donate … it’s so important for that decision to be made quickly and sometimes families are so in shock they don’t know what to do. I made sure I told my mom and dad when I signed my card because I didn’t want them to assume I didn’t want to. Thankfully they are very understanding and probably would have donated for me if that were presented as an option.

I’m proud of you!

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30 Laura (On the Threshold of Greatness) September 22, 2009

Thanks for posting this! I had a childhood friend die while on the waiting list for a lung. When he died, I promised I’d do whatever I could to prevent that from happening to anyone else. My mom’s cousin had a successful kidney transplant that allowed him to live decades longer than expected. I know people have their reasons not to donate organs, but personally, I feel the body is temporary and would love to help someone else live a fuller life if I can. What a gift!

This reminds me that I should donate blood again!

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31 ReinventingSandyB September 22, 2009

Weirdest thing, but maybe some of you can relate.. my sister once told me that she would donate any part of herself, but her eyes. “Too personal” she said.. Cliche, but many (my sister included) feel eyes are the windows to the soul and therefore too close for comfort when it comes down to donation. Not judging, but I dunno. I feel the best thing we can do is understand that our bodies are only temporary temples.. as odd as this may sound, take care of your temple, but don’t get attached. I’m much more connected to my actual soul than I am to their “windows”.. but that’s me.

Great topic Angela.

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32 Erin September 22, 2009

This is so appropriate – I just talked about this with my parents on Sunday night because I had renewed my license last week and mentioned that I was an organ donor. They are both organ donors as well, and it lead to the important “if that ever happens” conversation.

My mom is a nurse practitioner and she started telling us about all the ways that your body can help other people in need – from your organs, to your bones, to your tissue…I won’t get too graphic but it reminded me that the human body is so amazing! That’s why it’s so important to take care of it now.

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33 Niki September 22, 2009

Thank you so much for posting this, Angela!! When my dad passed away, he was an organ donor, and we found out that other people had been able to use his corneas, kidneys, and liver, I believe. I am so proud of my dad for being an organ donor, as he was able to help others in his passing. I also did feel that it helped with the grieving process, knowing that even though his death was a tragic accident, he was able to contribute to the quality of life of others. As soon as I turned 16, I registered to be a donor!

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34 Michelle Gay September 22, 2009

If you aren’t gonna use it…why not give it to someone who can?

Further, blood marrow registry is something that I have as well.

M

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35 Kristin September 22, 2009

Hi Angela –

I actually work in transplant medicine, so I thought I’d chime in to answer a couple questions for you.

The lack of online form: Online forms are usually not used because they are too easy. A consent form is valid because it stands for a reasoned decision that you have made from an understanding and informed position. If you have to print out a form and take action to send it in, it increases the likelihood that you are consciously choosing to donate your organs and it’s something you believe in. This also increases the likelihood that you have shared your beliefs and choices with your family and they will be less surprised in the event of your death and more likely to go along with your wishes.

Jewish donation: It’s fine to donate an organ if you are Jewish, but it has to be a living donation to someone you know. The official word is that anonymous donation and post-mortem donation are not ok, but living donation (liver, kidney, lung etc) is fine to someone specific.

Lastly, please sign your donation card as part of a medical plan. Fill out an advanced directive and tell your family and friends what you want for yourself in the event of an accident. The more people can attest to your beliefs, the better the odds that they will be held up. Simply signing a card will not always hold up if your family is against donation and the only evidence the hospital has of your choice to donate is a card. Tell people, spread the word and talk about donation. The more people know about it and make that important choice, the more people can be saved.

Thanks for bringing this up Angela, it’s so important for all of us to think about and remember.

Kristin

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36 Ellen @ Peace in Motion September 22, 2009

I said on my license application that I wanted to be an organ donor, but they forgot to put it on the actual card!

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37 Marilyn September 22, 2009

Deciding to donate your organs is a personal choice, and I would never condemn anyone for not choosing to do so. However, I encourage the many people that would, to actually make sure that they are!

For a long time, the idea of donating organs really creeped me out. Then somehow my thought process changed and I thought it was a really awesome last way to give of myself, even after I’ve passed away. My permit says I’m an organ donor and I’m proud of it :)

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38 HeatherBakes September 22, 2009

This is an awesome post. I’ve been meaning to register as an organ donor.

By any chance did you see Oprah today? They guest was the recipient of a face transplant. She’d survived a gunshot wound and now 80% of her face is from a donor. It’s a pretty amazing story.

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39 Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) September 23, 2009

Great way to get the word out there. I did this and was able to send out an email alerting anyone I wanted to know about my decision so that there would be no squabbling or questions.

Thanks for posting!

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40 Nikki September 23, 2009

What a great thing thing to do and post about!

I’m in Alberta, so we can sign the back of our AHC cards- I did this quite a long time ago. The reason I did was because I know that when my time comes, I want to be cremated so I figured, whats the point of burning perfectly good organs if they can help someone else or help science- I will never know they are missing at that point.
Sorry if this sounds brutal, but those are my thoughts and thats why I signed my card!
I think it’s the best gift you can give <3

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41 Oxidaisy September 23, 2009

Great post! I signed my card as soon as I got to the age that I was allowed to. And that was years before the big campaign they have now to send everybody a form as soon as they turn 18. To me it would be such an honor and the last thing I could do to help someone. Also, now that I have a career in research I decided that I also want to donate my brain/body to research so they can do something useful with it. At first I did not want to donate my body to research, because I wouldn’t like a first year medicine student to cut me up (sorry for the brutal description). But you can specifiy what you want and if they use it for example for Alzheimer’s research then I would be ok with that.

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42 Rachael September 23, 2009

I am loving this blog! I am definitely going to keep checking in.

Good on ya for signing up for organ donation. That is awesome.

Cheers!

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43 nic September 23, 2009

Wow what a coincidence!!!
I filled out my form the week before last!!
They are campaigning around here in the past weeks a lot too…! (In Switzerland and of course not the same ppl ;)!)
Thanks for writing about it!! I think it’s an important topic!!

Oh and by the way…. I’m still enjoying each and every post of you!! ;)

Hugs

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44 Huelo September 23, 2009

Thanks so much for posting this! I have a loved one who is a double-transplant survivor. Words don’t do justice…

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45 Crystal September 23, 2009

I’ve had my card signed since I was 17 and a few years back signed it again so that an image would be added to my Health Card to tell people that I am a Organ Donor!

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46 Jenna September 23, 2009

Organ donation is a wonderful thing, my husband died about 9yrs ago and we were able to donate and help 33 people. As hard as it was at least we know that that many and many
more lives were saved…

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47 Crystal September 23, 2009

Hi Angela – I am glad you decided to become a donor! In Colorado (not sure about the rest of the US) we are asked when we get our drivers license if we want to be a donor and there is a red heart on it if you choose to donte. I guess this is so if there is an accident, they know right away. Is this not the case in Canada, or even the rest of the US? I am just curious to know!

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48 Jess September 23, 2009

Yes, this is the case in the rest of the United States.

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49 Nikki T September 23, 2009

In Alberta, you sign the back of your Alberta Health Care card- I guess if there was an accident they should be able to look in your wallet and find your AHC card, but maybe not everyone carries it with them…
The license heart is a good idea!

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50 Jenn October 8, 2009

When you appear to renew your OHIP (health card)in Ontario you are asked if you wish to donate your organs. They actually take it a step further and ask you if you have any objection to them being donated for research or if you just wish for them to be donated for transplat purposes.

I am proud say I have signed up to be an organ donor.

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51 Jess September 23, 2009

Hi Angela,
In the US this is asked on your driver’s license form and displayed on your license. I have been an organ donor since I received my license when I was 17. It truly is a wonderful thing and I encourage everyone to have this put on their driver’s license or ID card.

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52 Heather September 23, 2009

Thank you for signing your card! Our family has been on both ends of the organ donation. When my only brother died, my parents allowed whatever organs were needed to be used to save lives. When my uncle died, his skin was harvested (sorry that sounds bad) for someone to have fresh, healthy skin during their burn recovery. When my Mom died, her corneas went to help someone see again.

On the flip side, my cousin’s infant daughter received a heart from another infant who lost their life. It was tragic to think what had to happen for Hannah to live but she’s now 4 & running around like a little girl should.

Organ donation is the one selfless way we can give to someone when our time on the Earth is over!

Thanks for sharing this :)

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53 T September 23, 2009

I work on the other side of things, with patients who are found to be brain dead and are being prepared for organ donation. What I need to say is this: TELL YOUR FAMILY. BE CLEAR. There have been many instances when our patients had signed organ donation cards and their families went against their wishes and declined donation. We have had patients go on to save the lives of MANY people. It would be a shame to not have your wishes carried out, whatever they are.

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54 Angela (Oh She Glows) September 23, 2009

You are very right. I told my family right away of my wishes so everything is clear. :)

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55 amie September 23, 2009

i also just want to tell everyone how important it is to donate eye tissue. my friend was blind in 3 years while waiting for a donor which she just received. read her blog and you’ll be convinced:http://janascorneatransplant.blogspot.com/

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56 Barbara September 23, 2009

I just signed up…for some reason I didn’t last time. This is a fantastic post and it gave me food for thought tonight. I try to take such good care of my body but should I meet an untimely death…it would be my honor to give another being something that saves or improves their life. That would be the greatest gift…

B

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57 Salina September 23, 2009

I would like to start by saying I’m all for organ donation — I have actually been thinking about bone marrow donation as I’m told you can do this while you are still alive as it grows back.
I am, however, nervous of donating my organs. I think this fear stems from two things (both of which I think are unreasonable, but can’t shake..)
1. Firstly, that organ donation means death. and I am petrified of the moment of death–I fully believe in eternity afterward, but there’s that microsecond when you might be in limbo–will you be forgotten?
2. Secondly, I’m not the healthiest person on the planet. What if I’ve done so much harm in my life to my body, that my organs are useless? I know I sometimes struggle with my place in the world, and thinking about this makes me worry that even in death I’ll be of no use.

These reasons are silly I know.. Which is why I am an organ donor, because after all, I will be dead and don’t think I’ll really care what happens to my body at that point. But these are just my thoughts.

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