At the bottom right hand corner of my driver’s license there is a small heart and the word “donor.” The print is small and easy to miss among all the other information contained. That one word, I would argue, is the most important piece of data there. Displayed next to my height, weight, and eye color, I proudly declare that when my organs are no longer of any use to me, I want to give them to someone in need. This is a personal decision and, according to United Network for Organ Sharing, donation is supported by all the major religions. It is also a decision that can impact up to eight other lives.
Donation of my organs, cornea, and tissues is a gift that will cost me and my family nothing. There is no cost to the donor’s family or estate, and it doesn’t affect funeral plans or prevent a viewing. When I die, my organs, tissue, and corneas will be available to people in dire need of them. I don’t want my body to be like an Egyptian pharaoh’s tomb filled with treasures that could be better used by the living. The ancient Egyptians removed the organs from the body before they mummified someone. These organs were placed in Canopic jars and buried. Let my Canopic jars be living, breathing people who need them to live their life to the fullest.
Right now, there are more than 113,000 people waiting for lifesaving organ transplants. Of those people, 8,000 will die each year waiting for an organ that will not come in time. The thought that I can lower that number when I die brings me a sense of pride and joy. Organ donation is the ultimate way for a physician, and anyone else, to help someone be healthier. Organ donation is truly giving the gift of life.
I have seen this gift of life personally. My cousin’s husband, his mother, and his sister all had heart transplants due to a genetic condition. He had a heart transplant on Dec. 29, 1999 and a kidney transplant on March 31, 2005 giving him an additional 20 wonderful years of watching his three children grow. A significant gift for someone who was not sure that he would live much beyond his wedding. Before his kidney transplant, he was dependent on a dialysis machine three times per week. The organ donations have changed his life and the lives of his family. I hope that I can change the life of someone else through my gift of organ donation and I hope you will consider donating as well. Find out more at www.organdonor.gov.
Jill Kruse, D.O. is part of The Prairie Doc® team of physicians and currently practices family medicine in Brookings, South Dakota. For free and easy access to the entire Prairie Doc® ® library, visit www.prairiedoc.org and follow Prairie Doc® on Facebook.