Friday, July 20, 2007

Organ donation, a soft tissue issue.

Being an enthusiastic supporter of the power of the Blogsphere to make a difference as the brilliant, international pressure group, I embarrass myself by discovering that I am a day late in raising the flag for organ donors.
It is a cause which merits global attention. The Australian style is simply to sign up on one's driver's license. One would imagine, therefore that there are lots of donors registered. Yet, Australia has one of the lowest rates of donors in the developed world. This turns out to be because the words "Organ Donor" on your driver's license don't actually mean a damned thing. It is a "statement of intent" but it will not make you an organ donor. It remains an issue for next of kin to decide.
If Australians want to be organ donors, they have to go to a bit more trouble. They have to put themselves on a special register and carry a separate card. Another piece of bloody plastic in the wallet - because the driver's license, which is good enough for most ID requirements and is generally deemed the most pivotal personal document after the passport, is not good enough to be an organ donor card. Huh?
Is your head spinning? Mine is.
Well, Australia celebrated a lovely organ donors' week earlier in the year. Lots of nice people signed up. There are almost a million donors, 924,387, when last I checked. In a country of 21 million, I guess that makes one donor for every 21. I would not have thought it was a bad rate. But, of course, the donors have to be dead to be useful.

Or not. There are some nasty, scary stories out there because of which some people carry Organ Retainer cards.
Just to be fair to the other side of the story.
The tales of black market in human organs may not be myths. Certainly, there are some alarming stories from China, yes, China again, about harvesting organs from Falun Gong prisoners. There are tales of donor bodies left stripped, an abandoned gutted carcas on the slab, while the medics rush around saving lives with the harvested organs and tissues.
Those stories are a bit sad.
It is not perfect business and nor is it a perfect world.

But those of us who choose to do a bit of good, to give a second chance to the sick by dedicating our used bits to their rebirth, should make our intention crystal clear - especially to our next of kin.


Milly Moo said...

I had absolutely no idea about the additional steps required to be an organ donor, thinking that the SA drivers' licence would be enough. I've signed on now, though!

Ann O'Dyne said...

I am registered as an organ donor and also on the bone marrow register.

It was the most incredible HIGH when I was notified that I matched some child in need.
Would I come in for the secondary level of tests?
Sure thing.
All I could think of was how wonderful to be a second chance for a sick child.
Unfortunately (after a gruelling round of 5 blood tests) the match was not as good as it needed to be.

The 'high' was great though.