An Argument for Organ Donation

By Hussayn Alrayes, MD (in progress)

In the realm of donations, there are only two types of people: those who give and those who don’t. The broad category of those who need greatly overwhelms the numbers of those who give, resulting in a severe shortage in supply versus demand. The unfortunate truth is, however, that many of those who don’t give have the ability to do so; they just choose not to. Even if the stakes are high and lives are in jeopardy, the rate of giving is still exceptionally low, especially with regards to organ donation. With the nearly infinite number of excuses we as humans can concoct in order to deviate from the actions of giving, one should recognize the effect that an organ donation can have on another person’s life.

organ-donation-ribbon

Although the gap between donor and recipient has slightly narrowed over the years, the United States Department of Health and Human Services has shown that an increasing amount of people get onto the waiting list to receive a vital organ, while only a fraction of those end up receiving a transplant. This year, the number of people on an organ transplant waiting list rose to 135,253. To help put that number into perspective, the University of Michigan’s “Big House” football stadium officially seats 109,901 people, meaning that there would be still be around 25,352 people over the seating limit. To supply the demand of a transplant is the embarrassingly low number of 8,277 people across the U.S. The sum of this number can be split based on living versus deceased donors, which translates to 3,323 and 4,954, respectively. Each donor has the potential to save 8 lives, which puts the maximum potential of saving a life for all current donors combined to be a little less than half of those who actually require it. Out of all the statistics found, one particular statistic listed above shocked me; the number of those who donate post-mortem. Regardless of any excuse that anyone may have, the amount of donors based solely on those who have deceased should be extraordinarily high, given the fatality rate of over 2.5 million per year just within the U.S. Although a number of these fatalities may be caused by illnesses that render the body unsalvageable, the vast majority of the remaining number of those individuals were in a position to donate, but did not.

Photo: Ben Edwards

Photo: Ben Edwards

Of the many excuses people come up with, a stance of forbiddance that a religion or faith places on organ donation should not be one of them. Regardless of creed or faith, saving another life, especially if it costs you nothing, should be fully encouraged, based on sound reason. Whether or not you believe in a spiritual afterlife, the physical end result will always be the same; your body, a seemingly perfect and beautiful demonstration of interplay between muscle, nerve, and various types of tissue, will die and decompose. The question is, will you give to those who need it, or just let it all become compost?

“And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world”

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