Bummer alert: Parkinson’s Disease runs in my family. So when my uncle was diagnosed in his late 50’s, he registered as a donor to the University of Miami Brain Endowment Bank. By donating his brain after death, he could give researchers the ability to answer important questions about what goes wrong when a disease affects the brain and hopefully, help change the trajectory for others.
Fortunately, my uncle shared these wishes with me so that we could make arrangements to facilitate the donation when the time came. The day of my uncle’s death, I called the Brain Endowment Bank to start getting the wheels in motion. He had been the longest active donor on their list so it was meaningful to be part of bringing this plan to fruition.
Unfortunately, after almost 24 hours of trying, we were unable to find a pathologist to perform the brain harvest. Ugh. I had no idea this would be a possible obstacle. However, I quickly learned that even though almost 170 million people are registered to be donors, only three in 1,000 people die in a way that allows for deceased organ donation.
April is National Donate Life Month which was created to raise awareness and encourage Americans to become registered organ, eye, and tissue donors. Organ donation is a crucial way to save lives and improve the health of those in need, but there are times when organs are not able to be donated after a person has passed away. Here are a few reasons why:
- Timing: One of the most important factors in successful organ donation is timing. Organs must be recovered within a few hours after a person has died, and the longer the time between death and organ recovery, the less likely it is that the organs will be viable for transplantation.
- Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions can make it difficult or impossible to donate organs. For example, a history of cancer, HIV, or hepatitis may disqualify a person from donating certain organs or tissues.
- Lack of awareness: In some cases, family members may not know that their loved one wanted to be an organ donor, or they may not understand the process well enough to make an informed decision.
- Family objections: Even if a person has registered as an organ donor or expressed their wishes to donate their organs, family members can still object to the donation.
So what can you do to help increase the stat we mentioned above? While there will ultimately be many circumstances beyond your control, here are three ways to ensure your organs are donated after you die:
- Register as an organ donor
- Discuss your wishes with your family
- Include your wishes to donate your organs in your will, living will, or advance directive
It’s no secret that we here at AfterLight strive to help the living deal with the dying, and encouraging our clients, friends, and colleagues to become donors is just another way we do that. Please consider registering as a donor and getting involved by participating in the celebrations, remembrances, and causes by clicking here.