Suppose you were to perform first aid and end up saving a person’s life. You’d feel mighty proud, wouldn’t you? This act, which may well have added 40 human years to this earth would reaffirm your knowledge that you are, indeed, a precious human being.
Now, suppose that you will all of your tissues and organs for donation upon your death. This selfless act of yours could easily save eight lives. If each of these people whose life you will have saved lives, on average, 40 years longer than he or she would have lived had you not donated your tissues and organs, then you will have added 320 human years of life to this earth. Your selfless act of donation actually occurs while you are alive because it is when you are alive that you are capable of willing your organs and tissues for donation. So if you donate your organs and tissues, then you should feel mighty proud during your lifetime.
In order to donate your organs, it is oftentimes necessary to let your loved ones know because they might refuse to allow you to donate your organs and tissues simply because they may assume that you do not desire to donate them. In some states and countries, even when you inform everyone of your desire to donate and you fill out all the necessary forms, your loved ones can nix your donation. But in some states, such as Illinois, one could simply fill out a form with the Secretary of State’s Office, using the Internet, so that no one can nix your desire to donate.
In the above discussion, I assume that you are dead when your organs and tissues are donated. You can also donate them while you are alive. Live donation offers certain advantages to the recipient. For example, kidneys from live donors begin functioning sooner than do those from dead donors. Although some tissues and organs can be donated without appreciable risk of great danger to the donor’s health, for some body parts live donation causes the majority of donors to experience severely weakened health so that, although they are healthy prior to the donation, they are patients in ill health afterward.
It is unfortunate that some religions place restrictions on organ and tissue donation. In some parts of the world, organ and tissue transplantation is exceedingly rare because of religious and cultural influences. Ironically, these same religions generally seem to teach that the greatest good is the act of saving another person’s life. Recently, I have seen several religious leaders for these religions step forward and declare that their religions, indeed, do not discourage donation.
Hopefully most people in the world will soon agree that organ and tissue transplantation is good because, if it is done after death, it would save many lives and cost none.