Monday, May 3, 2010

A public service announcement...

On what I would LOVE for people to know about organ donation!!

I chat in a few forums, and a couple of times, the topic of organ donation has come up. I'm very passionate about organ donation, and will share our story any chance I get.

I have heard people make comments on why they don't want to donate their organs, reasons being that they were afraid that the doctor would make a mistake, and they weren't actually dead.

In one instance, I engaged with a poster, who said that she heard a story that a guy was in an accident, his heart stopped, and they decided to harves his organs. On the way to the OR, his heart started beating again, and he made a full recovery. This poster was using this as a reason that she wouldn't donate her organs.

*Organs are not taken out of a dying person. They are taken out of a brain dead person...BIG BIG BIG difference!!! Also, they do not rush you from an ambulance to the OR to remove organs. A lot has to be arranged, before they even think about cutting the person open!*

More recently, a poster claimed that she'd read an investigation that if a doctor knows ahead of time, that a dying patient is an organ donor, that he might be likely to let that patient die, in order to harvest his organs. That the doctor might not do all he could to save that patient, so that another could live.

*Why would a doctor let one patient die, to save another? He wouldn't. Unless, maybe it was his mother, who needed the organs!! Even then, there are these pesky oaths, and ehical guidelines that doctors must deal with! And, again, organs are taken from a brain DEAD person, not a brain-DYING person! BIG BIG BIG DIFFERENCE!*

Misinformation like this makes my blood pressure sky-rocket, my heart race, and my emotions run wild.

This stuff couldn't be farther from the truth.

I just wanted to share our experience, so that people know exactly what goes on, behind the scenes of organ donation. We've been on both sides of it, so I'm speaking from our personal experience, particularly, in donating Joey's heart.

Organs are only harvested from a person who is brain dead. Brain dead is all dead. There is no recovery from brain death. When a person is declared brain dead...that's it. There will not be any miraculous recovery, and brain death is not the same as a coma. In a coma...the brain is injured, maybe impaired, but, not dead.

The doctors do several tests to declare brain death, before the organs can be harvested. We were allowed to be present for Joey's tests, so that we could see for ourselves, that he was indeed, gone. They did an EEG, to measure brain waves. They did a test on his pupils, to see if they reacted to light, and they pulled him off the breathing machine to see if he tried to spontaneously breathe on his own.

After this was done by one physician...they waited over night, and repeated them in the morning, by another physician.

The process to donate an organ is long, and tedious. It is not a hurried, rushed decision. There is a lot that has to happen and that has to be arranged, before they take the brain dead person (NOT BRAIN DYING PERSON) to the OR.

It took about 24 hours, or more, between the time that we signed the organ donation consent, and the time they took Joey into the OR.

I am very passionate about organ donation. A stranger's gift, gave us three months that we might not have otherwise had, with Joey...and his heart still beats in a precious little girl, named Daniela, today!

I hate that misinformation is used to scare people into making a decision against organ donation. I've lived it...both sides of it...and it's beautiful. It's incredible. It's AMAZING!! And, most importantly, it's carried out respectfully, and carefully, by people who genuinely care. For a few years after Joey died, I still talked to the nurses who came to harvest his organs, on the phone. I still send them Christmas cards, to this day.

I would be happy to answer any of your questions about the process. I love talking about it, and would be happy to share our experience, and even more happy to eradicate any misinformation out there!!!


Allie said...

Great post! I seriously can't imagine anyone being selfish enough to take their organs with them to the grave. When I die, I want them to take anything they can, that will help someone else!

Nikki B. said...

thanks, allie!! some of the horror stories out there, just amaze me, and i hate that some of them are being spread, as truth.

i agree, i'm actually thinking about donating my entire body to science, when i die. i've heard that there is a lot of paperwork, and that i should get started on it, now!!

trooppetrie said...

Great post. 13 years ago this June we donated my brothers organs. he was hit by a car and had severe head injuries. I felt horrible for his wife because I do not think she (17 years old) was prepared for how much work it was. but wow the friendships my mother has made with the people who recieved his organs. it has blessed our family more than we thought possible

Nikki B. said...

wow, trooppetrie! i'm so sorry about your brother. that's awesome that your mom has gotten to meet some of the recipients. i hope to meet my son's one day!!

Brooke said...

Great PSA! I've always believed in organ donation too. And I'm proud to have signed on with my local state (have the heart sticker that says "organ donar" on my license), and my family all know of my wishes as well (and they believe the same way too).

Jes said...

I am totally donating all of my organs!! I decided that long ago. I hope to help many people go on to live long healthy lives by receiving my organs! Brooke, do you live in Texas? I didn't know they gave out stickers for organ donors.

S.I.F. said...

Love you lady! Thank you for sharing what you ACTUALLY KNOW to be the truth!

You know misinformation makes me batty too! :)

Unknown said...

great PSA! i think its insane to not want to donate but people are nutty. i think you letting people know your story is fantastic and hopefully they will understand its not like a greys episode.

we are also bone marrow donors and people think that is crazy but its very important to us to help when we can.

Dawn said...

I honestly didn't realize there were so many misconceptions about organ donation.

I put organ donor on my driver's license and I actually looked into seeing if Taylor could donate her organs when the time came.

Unfortunately, her diagnosis doesn't allow organ donation but I definitely would if I could.

Thanks for the great post!

Kameron said...

My hubby fights me on the fact that I want my organs donated. I have no idea why. He is weird. Great post and getting the word out about the reality of organ donation!

melinda said...

thank you for talking about this subject nikki. my uncle is the recipient of a liver transplant from organ donation, we will forever be greatful to the donors family for the gift of life for our family, we are all now potential organ donors should we pass. last weekend, on my youngest daughter's 19th birthday, her dear long time friend, who was 20, was killed in a car accident, her name was Caitlyn, she was an organ donor. i had the privilage of having a long conversation with her dad about how much time and care the dr's & nurses took in trying to get Caitlyn's body (she was brain dead shortly after arriving at the hospital, being kept alive solely on life support, because it was so very important to her & her family that her organs be donated) i had no clue how many things have to line up in order to harvest organs. unfortunately caitlyn's body would did not stabalize enough to meet most organ donor requirements, she was severely injured. but ... as opposed to doing nothing, he parents chose to donate what could be used, her retina's, parts of her skin, her tissue and the organs that were viable enough for research were also donated. i cannot imagine giving a more special gift than life for another human being. the thought that caitlyn will live on thru others has been a huge healing tool for my daughter, a way to make some sense of a tragic situation. said...

Our son received a deceased donor kidney 8 months ago. We still pray everyday for the family of the donor and when his donor was alive, we prayed for the donor that he/she was living their life to the fullest. I don't know Logan's donor's family yet--we still have a few more months left before we can even attempt. But, I feel a closeness with them that I can't describe. The day before Logan's transplant, at about 7 pm I had this overwhelming urge to pray not for Logan's donor but for the donor's family. I sat and prayed for a while and I even considered finishing packing our bags but instead went to sleep early and enjoyed the night. Tomorrow is Mother's Day and though we can't go to church tomorrow because Loge's immune system is down--we will be praying for the family. I will never be able to express exactly all that Logan's donor's family has meant to us. Logan is now a hyper almost normal 2 year old who right now would like some yogurt--something he couldn't have eaten before he got his kidney.

eureka! said...

Thanks for posting this! It's encouraging to hear about donation from both sides. Do people honestly think that their doctor wouldn't try as hard?! I guess maybe I'm too trusting, but I feel like that's so far from the truth. Thanks for setting the record straight (again!)