I do talk a lot about “debunking” transplant & organ donation myths. However, I didn’t do it quite as well as these sources…If you’re on the fence, get the facts; give these a read & then decide for yourself.
If you haven’t signed up to become a donor you can do so here at any time: Organdonor.gov. This site has a wealth of information on the entire process as well; including how organ allocation (matching) works.
There were a few things I didn’t know about organ donation even as strongly as I’ve supported it, even before I became sick enough to need to consider transplantation. One of those is the consideration for living donors. Should that living donor need an organ in the future, they are put at the top of the list for their previous sacrifice when the time comes (so far most sources I’ve seen only specifically address this for living kidney donors. Yet it might also apply to the liver or other organs that might utilize living donation & I’m just not looking in the right place for it). It doesn’t happen that often that the donor may eventually need an organ themselves. I don’t know that all that many people know about that fact & I think it’s important to point out. I found this out recently from one of the volunteers at the Gift of Life Family House who used to do runs in procurement (where they go get the organs & then evaluate them to make sure they are viable); then I read more about it on my own.
The other interesting thing I’ve seen recently is in regards to multiple transplants within the same center. The new “six-way” kidney transplant you may have heard about early this year is actually an exchange. This usually occurs when a friend or family tries to get tested to donate to their loved one but are not compatible. Other people may be in the same position. So while they might not be able to donate directly to their loved one, they can donate to someone else in the same position, and that person’s incompatible donor can donate back to their loved one. This WDAY article does a great job of explaining this. It’s interesting & encouraging because it only saves lives but I’m sure has saved considerable wait times for some very sick people.
In closing, I’d like to highlight a few stories of people with unique experiences & journeys that highlight the importance of these gifts in a few important ways.
There’s a touching story about a (then 11 year old) boy with Cystic Fibrosis who now is still going strong 2 years after his June 2013 transplant. He was given lungs that were turned down by 5 other centers (with sicker patients) as not being viable. Though this link is to an article celebrating his 1st anniversary, his father is on Twitter & tweeted out an update back in June 2015 with an update about how far Jordan has come & how well he continues to do. I felt it was a heart-warming read & interesting how in this case no organ ever went to waste even after differences in “viability” between centers (which is something that is not often discussed but is also part of the process). If one center does turn down the organ as long as it’s still potentially viable it is offered to another.
Then, there’s my friend (& fellow LAM sister), Justine Laymond, an amazing Brit who is now 9 years post transplant & done some amazing things. In 2012, Justine sailed the Atlantic. In 2015, she topped that by climbing a volcano in Equador. She’s also participated in British & Australian Transplant games & attended the World Transplant games. So she keeps plenty busy giving those donor lungs a workout. Her blog is a great chronicle of all her adventures. I’ve never met her but I hope I can some day because she’s such an inspiration & a tireless advocate for donation. She’s really done her donor proud with everything she’s done & at least for now she shows no signs of slowing down.