Learning About Tissue and Organ Donation

There are a lot of people out in the world who don't really know what tissue and organ donation is about. Also, a lot of people may have the wrong idea about it in general. Being an organ donor is a very serious decision and you should know all you can about it before deciding to become so. The choice is ultimately up to you, but you have to make it known to your family as well.

First everyone needs to know what exactly it means to donate tissue or an organ. An organ transplant involves surgically removing an organ or tissue from one patient, the donor, and putting it in another patient, the recipient. People who agree to become an organ donor meant that you are allowing your organs or tissues to be removed and placed in someone else who needs it. Majority of the time, organ donations come from people who have died but had given previous consent, or a family member has given consent, for them to be a donor. Even though most donors are deceased, you can still donate if you are alive. This may mean that you donate blood, stem cells, platelets, or in some cases other organs like a kidney.

You also need to know about who can and can't be organ donors. No matter what your age is, you can be a donor. Many people think that just because they are in their 70s or 80s that they wouldn't qualify to be a donor. The truth is that you could be a newborn baby or 100, as long as your organs were once of working order, they can be used as a transplant. The only thing is if you are under 18 and would like to become a donor, you must have parental consent in order to do so. You can always explain your concern to your parents and request to become one. If you have HIV, brain cancer that is actively spreading, and some severe infections, you can't qualify to be an organ donor. Always check with your doctor when thinking about agreeing to be a donor to find out if you qualify or not. If you wish to donate a kidney while you are still alive, it is possible. You will have to undergo different tests to determine if you are healthy enough to have only one kidney and other tests to qualify you.

People also may not fully understand what all they can donate and how it might work. When you sign to become a donor, you can decide what all you would like to donate and what you wouldn't. If you die, doctors won't come in and take everything from you that they can unless you want them to. You can choose to donate your kidney, heart, liver, lung, pancreas, and/or intestines. If you wish to donate while still living, you can donate one of your kidneys or parts of your lung, liver, intestine, and pancreas. There are also some tissues that you can donate too; you can donate the cornea (coating on your eye), the middle ear, skin, heart valves, bones, veins, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. As stated before, you can also donate stem cells, blood, and blood platelets.

There are a few more things to know when it comes to organ donations. If you do decide to become a donor, make it known to your family, a lawyer, and/or a family doctor so that if the time comes, your wishes can be carried out. There is no cost to your family or estate for any transplants that may happen; the cost goes to the patient who is getting the transplant. This is not the buying and selling of organs; patients who receive organs pay for the price of the operation. Any cost that your family pays is for any tests or operations that were done to attempt to keep you alive. One myth is that the quality of your medical care goes down when you sign up to become a donor. This simply isn't true. People who undergo emergency operations, you can be assured that your doctor is chosen because he/she is specialized in that area and has no connections to any future transplants. Your life is taken seriously and you will not be put in harm's way in order to save another life.

If you are planning on having and open casket funeral, it is still possible when you are a donor. Since the deceased is usually clothed, any sutures or signs of the donation are hidden by the clothes. For those who are worried whether or not their religion allows it, you will need to check with your church or place of worship to be sure. However, majority of religions do allow donations. Perhaps you decide that you do not want to donate your organs for transplantation, you can still donate them for scientific research.

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