Dear Abby: Organ donors get big thanks

Published Sunday, October 3, 2010 by Dear Abby.

Dear Abby: My dad was on the kidney transplant list for almost four years. Last week, he received a call that there was a kidney for him.  As I sat in the waiting room during his transplant surgery, I became aware that two other families were in the same situation. One’s relative was also getting a kidney transplant, the other a liver. As we talked, it became apparent that every transplant surgery that evening was from the same donor.  
I can’t help but think of the family who lost this young man, who helped to save the lives of three people. I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to that family and to all the families who have donated the organs of their loved ones.
Because of one person, my father and two other dads got a new lease on life.  My plea is for people to mark the back of their driver’s license to indicate their willingness to become an organ donor.  Also let your famlies know that you want your organs donated, if God forbid, anything were to ever happen.  It will make the decision for them much easier.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak out and perhaps save someone’s life the way someone saved my dad, whom I love very much. 
– Grateful Daughter In Owensboro, Ky.

Dear Daughter: Your letter touched my heart. I hope it will remind everyone what a precious gift each of us can give if we wish.  Readers, I encourage all of you to discuss the subject of organ donation with your families.  Let them know you would like to give “the gift of life” and ensure that a part of you lives on.  Your generosity can make the difference between life and death for someone.

Thank you, Dear Abby.  To my readers, change your license now, and be aware that simply stating organ donor status on your license does not guarantee you will be a donor.  Believe it or not, the law states that your family ultimately gets to decide what to do with your organs.  Inform them of your choice.  This is so important and yes, you WILL save lives.  Please think of others before your time comes.  You see how one donor’s choice saved my life in such a huge way.  If you’re in NE Ohio, please contact Lifebanc for more information.Love,

Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda, DIDN’T

Image courtesy of LifeBanc.

I’m excited to present these newly released statistics because they finally reflects my September 1, 2010 transplant!

Courtesy of LifeBanc, through September 2010, 

In Ohio, there have been:
2010 Organ Donors = 93
2010 Tissue Donors = 351
2010 Organs Transplanted  313
2010 Tissues Recovered = 3,677

Coversion rate = 78.15%
National Conversion Rate Goal = 75.00%

Organs per Donor: 3.37
LifeBanc’s Organ per Donor Goal: 3.10

NE Ohioans registered as organ, eye, tissue donors: 53.1%
New registrants from Ohio during September: 8,073

Ohians who are registered = 55.1%

Then, through July, 2010 (before my transplant),
Nationally, there were 109,297 waiting list candidates for any transplant, while there were only 8,477 donors.  Because of these donors, 16,778 transplants were able to take place! 

I might not be here today if it weren’t for my teenage donor who decided to give life at the end of a beautiful summer… right before he suddenly passed away.  

Please contact me by my information on the sidebar, through any of my social media sites, or you can also contact LifeBanc if you’d like more information about organ donation and how it’s one simple gift that can save 8 lives and change up to 50.

Organ donation, an opt-out policy?

Such an interesting article in USA Today…

A suburban New York City assemblyman whose daughter is a two-time kidney transplant recipient wants to flip New York’s organ-donation system on its head by presuming people are donors unless they indicate otherwise.  

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky’s proposal would require that people automatically be added to the state donor registry unless they opt out of being a donor when they get a driver’s license or state identification card. Other states, including Delaware and Pennsylvania, have made similar proposals, but none passed.

“What I’ve said to anybody, whether they like it or they don’t like it, we can’t sustain the current system,” said Brodsky, a Democrat from Greenburgh in New York’s Westchester County.

He and other advocates of the “presumed consent” donor system believe it could help increase organ and tissue donations.

“People are dying in New York this week because we have failed to create a system that maximizes the opportunities to keep them alive,” said Brodsky, whose daughter, Julianne “Willie” Brodsky, received her second transplant four years ago and has become an advocate for changing the system.

An April survey by the New York Alliance for Donation found 67% of state residents strongly support organ and tissue donation, yet 13% of the state’s residents 18 and older are on the Donate Life Registry, which allows individuals to give their legal consent to be an organ or tissue donor. Nationally, 37% of adults 18 and older are designated donors, according to a report card published in April by Donate Life America based on an online survey of 5,100 adults.

Nearly 9,600 people in New York and 107,991 across the country needed organ transplants as of June 18, Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network statistics show. Last year, there were 423 deceased organ donors in New York and 8,021 nationwide, the group said.

Brodsky said his bill to implement presumed consent, which is sponsored in the Senate by Manhattan Democrat Thomas Duane, has sparked a lot of interest, but he knows both individuals and religious groups have raised concerns.

Mary Ann Baily, a fellow of the Hastings Center, a bioethics research group in Garrison, N.Y., said it’s easy to see why presumed consent would not go over well with Americans at a time when many are pushing against government control on a variety of other issues.

“The problem is it’s quite easy not to even notice that box that says, ‘I don’t want to donate my organs,’ ” Baily said, referring to a driver’s license form. “You should only presume consent when it really is clear that everybody would consent if they thought about it.”

To get traction in this country, “it’s going to take one state to sort of jump out there and show that it works,” said Arthur Caplan, a bioethics professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, who has been working on the issue since 1983.

Efforts elsewhere:

• Legislation proposed in the Illinois Senate this year is still in committee, but there is a chance it could be acted on before the session ends in January, said Lisa Sims, a spokeswoman for Republican Sen. Dale Risinger of Peoria, who proposed the bill.

• Legislation died in committee in the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1993, said Christie Herrera, director of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Health and Human Services Task Force. The council, a group of conservative state lawmakers, opposes presumed consent, she said.

• A presumed-consent bill didn’t get out of committee in the Texas Legislature in 2003, Herrera said. The same thing happened in the Delaware Legislature two years ago, she said.

Among the objections to presumed consent are a belief that physicians may not work as hard to save a potential organ or tissue donor and the government and health care systems would have too much power in a life or death situation.

“This legislation opens up the door to abuse via hastened death of vulnerable people and overriding of family concerns,” Jerome Higgins, chairman of the the Long Island Coalition for Life Inc., wrote in a memo to New York lawmakers. “The sick and disabled need to be protected, not exploited for their body parts.”

Physicians who conduct transplants “don’t hope for somebody to die to be a donor,” said Luca Cicalese, chairman and director of the Texas Transplant Center and surgery professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

“There is a system that is very careful in keeping things separate and avoiding conflicts of interest,” he said.

Other states with low donor-registration rates are Texas (an estimated 2%), South Carolina (9%) and New Hampshire (10%), the Donate Life America report found.

A number of European nations, including France, Austria and Spain, have a presumed-consent system in place, and they have seen an increase in organ availability, said Caplan, the bioethics professor.

Organ donation: an opt-out policy, USA Today, June 30, 2010, 3A by Cara Matthews

The Beginning of the End?

Or perhaps, the end of the beginning?

Today began the beginning of the end, or perhaps the beginning of a new beginning. This week, after an MRCP and ultrasound, we discovered my liver disease (Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis, or PSC) has progressed and a transplant is imminent. I’ve been no stranger to this disease – maintainable with a healthy lifestyle, frequent observation, and medications… treatable only with a transplant. My doctor would always say pediatric cases go downhill unexpectedly and rather quickly. A mysterious tumor has developed on my liver, and it’s in a position where no one can be sure if it’s cancerous or benign.

I will spend most of this week meeting doctors and going through testing, and my doctor expects a deceased-donor transplant in the next 2-3 months. My case has been expedited, and I should have a new liver – and a new life – by the end of summer. In all likelihood, barring organ rejection or complications, I will be able to live a much fuller life after my recovery from this invasive surgery.

As my dad put it, I’ve gone from a marathon to a sprint, and right now I feel a little numb. My parents aren’t dealing very well, and this is going to take a toll on my whole family. My sister surprised me with a charm for my Pandora bracelet, and I know she loves me more than she lets on. I told my cousin, one of my best friends, tonight, and have scheduled meet-ups with my closest friends later this week so I can tell them in person rather than by a text or quick phone call.

My doctor recommended that I put my education on hold until I’ve fully recovered from the surgery, but she expects I will feel better than ever once everything is said and done. I’m excited about that, but so afraid of all of the unknowns. Although I’m no stranger to the hospital, a 2-4 week stay is very intimidating, and I’m not looking forward to having my abdomen sliced completely open vertically and horizontally. I’m really scared of the pain. Also, there are so many “what ifs,” and organ rejection or infection is definitely possible. Thankfully, my doctor said since I’m young, in good shape, and otherwise pretty healthy, I have a better chance of making it through the next few months. As terrible as it seems, an unknown family’s loss will hopefully give me an entire new life, health I’ve never experienced before.

Friends, realize the value of your life and how you can continue to make a difference long after you’re gone. Please go to your BMV or contact me if you’d like to be an organ donor. I can help you make your decision as I’m an advocate for LifeBanc and have been trained as an ambassador. I can assure you that all of the myths are false, and you have the power to change dozens of lives for decades after your death. We never know how many more breaths we’ll breathe, how many more sunrises and sunsets we’ll be here for. Nothing can be taken for granted.

I love each one of you who have taken the time to stop by and check in, and I covet your prayers for my whole family right now. We are especially praying for peace and courage as we finally go through what has been in the waiting for 17 1/2 years now.

Dear Lord,
We come before you tonight and pray for your grace to touch our lives. Lead us through the high waters as you have so many times before. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, please let me fear no evil. I know you are with me, and I know my life is in your strong hands. Please be our strength and our peace as we proceed through this unknown territory. May your will be done in all things, and please give us the courage to continually follow your footsteps in unwavering faith.
Please guide all doctors involved in my case, and let the right liver come to me. Please be with the family who doesn’t know they’re about to lose a loved one in the next few months. I will make sure they know of my gratitude once I’ve received the gift of physical life. Thank you for your gift of eternal life.

Again, please give us the peace that passes understanding as none of this makes sense right now.

We love you, Lord.  Our trust is in you.

Love to you all,