Self-preservation is my reason for not rushing out to donate a kidney. I place family members and myself before strangers for such a gift. I know that sounds cold, but I do not believe it is uncommon.
Donating an organ is major surgery for the donor and recipient. To be a live donor of a kidney to one of the many people on the donor waiting list is truly noble and places oneself on a precarious future of health or health related issues. Surgery is always risky. Albeit, if someone you love is on the receiving end, it is worth every risk.
A shift to the topic of organ donation best serves this discussion. An organ from a healthy,new deceased body is a great way to transfer the moral discomfort of answering the question, what prevents you from becoming a living kidney donor?
Current figures from the U.S. Government Information on Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation, indicate a waiting list for organs at 97,899 people. The number of transplants between January and October 2007 was 23,703 while the number of donors in the same time period is reported to be 12,026.(1) If self-preservation seems selfish, let these figures soak in a bit. The question should be, are you an organ donor and if not, why?
Almost ironically, in 1991 The World Health Organization (WHO) declared organs from cadavers as preferential to live donors.(2) One reason for this preference are the difficulties, both anticipated and unanticipated, that follow organ donation for the donor.
On the issue of live donation, the Institute of Medicine(3)encourages more research in how donors arrive on the decision to donate, what psychological consequences occur, and progress of recovery over time, the impact of donating on a marriage and many other facets that may not be clear to the donor at first blush. Being a live organ donor is a life changing decision not made lightly.
1 www.organdonor.gov accessed on Jan. 18, 2008.
2 Delmonico, F. L., Kidney International; Mar2006, Vol. 69 Issue 6, p954-955, 2p
3 Clinical Transplantation; Jan2007, Vol. 21 Issue 1, p86-93, 8p,