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Becoming an Organ Donor, Essay Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1436

Essay

Introduction

What would it take for a person to donate his (her) organ to save the life of his (her) beloved one? And what would it take for a person to donate his (her) organ to save the life of a person, whom he (she) does not even know? These questions do not have definite answers, and organ donation remains the topic of serious ethical and social concern. Annually, thousands of patients die while waiting for an organ transplant. In the United States alone, 3000 patients die every year while waiting for their organs, and more than 100,000 die before they are placed on a waiting list (Gridelli & Remuzzi 404). On the one hand, people lack education and awareness of what organ donation is and how it can benefit population. On the other hand, the country lacks a clear, well-formulated donation strategy and a developed donation market. The current system of organ donation is based on altruism, but altruism alone cannot save people from death, which an organ transplant could prevent. This topic is surrounded by much controversy: many people see organ donation as a potential source of corruption and human discrimination. Nevertheless, people who choose to become an organ donor will save and improve the lives of many.

Those who choose to become an organ donor can save thousands of lives. Given the number of deaths that result of the lack of available organ transplants, people who choose to become donors can save thousands of lives. In the current system of health care, even those organs which are donated and become available to patients can be rejected for various reasons. Thus, those who become donors can help resolve these problems. It appears that almost 7 percent of donated kidneys are discarded because of inappropriate quality, weight, or size of the organ (Gridelli & Remuzzi 406). Also, “the donor’s age, positive serologic tests for infections are the most common reasons for the refusal of kidneys offered for transplantation” (Gridelli & Remuzzi 406). With other organs, the situation is no better: livers and hearts can also be rejected because of abnormal function or abnormal biopsy findings (Gridelli & Remuzzi 406). Although the number of available transplants gradually increases, the waiting lists grow, too: in the past ten years, waiting lists more than doubled (Gridelli & Remuzzi 407). In light of the constant lack of available transplants, the more people choose to become organ donors, the more patients they will be able to save. In this situation, to become an organ donor will mean to be able to save at least one life. It will also mean to reduce waiting lists and to improve the current system of organ donation in the country. Finally, a donor is more likely to improve the quality of donated organs, because currently the major portion of transplants comes from the deceased donors, whose health is far from perfect.

Those who choose to donate an organ can prolong someone else’s life. Statistically, three fourths of present day transplants come from deceased donors (Steinbrook 210). In his interview to the New England Journal of Medicine, Doctor Delmonico says that those who meet the standard for donation after cardiac or brain death are 59 years old or older (Steinbrook 210). That means that the organs that are donated cannot always match age and quality expectations of patients. Some patients may feel concerned about getting a transplant from a deceased donor, even if the organ is of high quality and matches the patient requirements and health criteria. The more individuals choose to become donors, the more patients they will benefit. Quality organs will make patient lives better. Patients will have more chances to prolong their lives and to re-integrate with the community. Those who become donors will improve the lives of many.

Organ donation is economically beneficial and justified. That increased organ supply leads to improved life expectancy and quality of life is a well-documented fact (Institute of Medicine 34). At the national level, transplantation is a great cost-effective alternative to conventional treatment. For example, the financial costs of kidney transplantation do overweight the costs of dialysis (Institute of Medicine 34). “Every additional kidney donation from a living donor reduces total spending by more than $90,000” (Institute of Medicine 34). In terms of deceased donors, each donor creates a gain to transplant recipients equal to 13 quality-adjusted life years (Institute of Medicine 34). Bearing in mind that each quality-life year costs around $100,000, one can estimate how much money and economic resources a country can save by encouraging organ supply (Institute of Medicine 34). For these reasons, any person who chooses to become an organ donor will benefit many. Increased organ supply will reduce waiting lists and the costs associated with waiting. By providing patients with a timely transplant, medical professionals will be able to reduce the development of negative medical outcomes, which also result in increased medical costs and expenses. The truth is that the earlier the transplant is provided, the more chances the patient has to avoid the risks of postoperative mortality (Institute of Medicine 35). That is why organ donation can be fairly regarded as an activity that is not simply cost-effective, but even cost-saving.

Unfortunately, very often, researchers do speak about potential fallacies and problems of increased organ donation. These are particularly problematic for organ donors. Although organ donors can benefit many, they can hardly benefit themselves, and this is one of the major obstacles on the way to an increased organ supply. “While expenditures for medical evaluation, surgery and hospital care are generally covered through public or private insurance, donors are often responsible for other costs associated with the donation process” (Clarke et al 1952). A person who chooses to become an organ donor must be prepared to a whole set of direct and indirect costs, including travel and accommodation, medical costs, the income they lose in the process of staying in the hospital, as well as lost productivity (Clarke et al 1957). In this situation, it looks morally and ethically unacceptable to impose such costs on a person who is willing to save someone else’s life. The process of transplantation is difficult and dangerous, and donors report being out of work, being absent from their daily activities, or being unproductive for lengthy periods of time (Clarke et al 1957). This, however, does not mean that organ donation must be prohibited. As mentioned earlier, the three fourths of the current organs are donated from the deceased, which makes productivity and lost income irrelevant. The living donors may also benefit by being educated about the benefits and usefulness of organ donation. The government should also become more attentive to the costs, which potential donors are bound to carry, and provide them with due compensation. All these issues can be readily resolved through an organized legal market of organ donation. Although organ donors do carry some costs, these in no way overweigh economic and social benefits of increased organ supply, and by making information about these benefits available the country will also encourage organ donation. Finally, any organ donor, regardless of the costs, will benefit thousands of those on waiting lists.

Conclusion

Any individual who chooses to become an organ donor will benefit many. This issue is important because organ donation is a matter of choosing life vs. death. With the organ supply increased, the quality of donated organs will improve. Thousands of those on waiting lists will be given a chance to survive. The time of waiting will reduce. The country will reduce medical costs it spends to support lives in those, who need a transplant. Increased organ supply will result in the increased number of quality life-years each patient will be able to live. Unfortunately, in the current system of medical care, potential living donors have to carry significant costs. Education, awareness, altruism, and reasonable financial compensation will help resolve these issues. Ultimately, to become an organ donor will mean to make a tribute to the society, and saving someone else’s life will become a critical component of one’s spiritual and moral triumph.

Works Cited

Clarke, K.S., Klarenbach, S., Vlaicu, S., Yang, R.C. & Garg, A.X. “The Direct and Indirect Economic Costs Incurred by Living Kidney Donors – A Systematic Review.” Nephrol Dial Transplant, vol. 21 (2006), pp. 1952-60.

Gridelli, B. & Remuzzi, G. “Strategies for Making More Organs Available for Transplantation.” The New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 343, no. 6 (2000), pp. 404-10.

Institute of Medicine (U.S.). Organ Donation: Opportunities for Action. National Academies Press, 2006.

Steinbrook, R. “Organ Donation After Cardiac Death: Interview with Francis Delmonico.” The New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 357, no. 3 (2007), pp. 209-13.

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