Thursday, 12 September 2013

The 9 Myths of Organ Donation that You may Believe.

Today I am going to debunk some organ donation myths.

Myth: It is really hard to be an organ donor.
Fact: Actually, it is really easy. Most provinces just have you check a box when you renew your driver's license or health card and presto, you are an organ donor.            Click on your province for more detailed information:
Nfld and Lab NSPEI; NB (Of course NB has no official lung transplant website but the NB Lung Association can offer some more information);  QuebecOnt; ManSask;  Alb;  BC

Myth: If I sign the donor card that is all I have to do to be a donor.

Fact: You still need to talk to your family about your wishes as they can override your decision when the time comes. Go talk to them now. Seriously, right now. If you get hit by a bus tomorrow, die in hospital, and and haven't yet talked to them, I will be pissed (I will also be sad that you are dead).

Myth: My body will be used for organ donation no matter how I die.
Fact: Actually no, while it is great you want to donate your body, you have to die in hospital for most organs to be viable for transfer. Blood needs to be kept pumping through the organs even after you die and that doesn't happen if you get mauled by a bear (unless the bear is in the hospital). Your eyes, bones and skin, however, will still be fine when they find you in the woods (providing the bear doesn't run away with you). 

Myth: I am too old to donate anything.
Fact: Nope! Sure, not all of your body parts will be viable but as long as you die in hospital, you will most likely have some working body parts that other people need to live. ie - the cornea in your eye, tissues, or skin.
 Myth: If I become a donor, my body will later be used for medical research and in student labs.
Fact: Not even a little bit. Organ donation means any organs that are donated will be removed and everything else will be given to your family for burial (or cremation, or liquidation, or Tibetan sky burial, or whatever else you are doing). You can still have an open casket if you want so everyone to gaze upon your glory while they think how awesome it was that you donated your organs.
If you do want your body donated for medical research, I believe you have to fill out a slew of forms from that facility. Here are Dalhousie's forms if you want to donate your body to Dalhousie's Faculty of Medicine. 
Myth: Doctors won't try to save my life if they know I'm an organ donor.
Fact: Umm no. ER doctors will do everything they can to save you. Trust me, they do not want you to die from the bear attack anymore than you do. The organ donation conversation only happens after everything possible has been done and you are actually declared dead.

Myth: My family will have to pay if I am an organ donor.
Fact: Nope! Hurray for the Canadian health-care system! Your family will still have to pay for your fancy casket and manicure and whatnot (but they would have had to do that anyway).

Myth: Transplants don't work so there is no point in signing anything.
Fact: Actually, transplant success rates are pretty good. Kidney and liver transplants especially.
Myth: Everyone else signs their donor card so I don't have to.
Fact: No. Thousands of Canadians are waiting for some type of transplant (4,000 to be exact). 1,803 transplant operations were done last year in Canada while 195 people died while on a waiting list.                                                                                          
Canada has a low rate of organ donation, even though we have a similar percentage of willing donors compared to other developed countries. The low number of organ donors is attributed to our lower rates of death from car accidents or gunshot wounds compared to other countries. While it is awesome that more people survive from their car accidents and aren't getting shot as often, it does mean that the possible donor pool is smaller than other countries and each potential donor matters that much more.

In conclusion, you can help save or enhance the life of 8 people through your organ donations.

8 people!!

Batman didn't even save that many people!*

You will be more awesome than Batman.

*Note: I know nothing about Batman. However, I do know about the need for organ donation so please sign your donor cards today and harass your family and friends until they do the same.  

For a less awesome version of the myths debunked and more information, visit the Canadian Society of Transplantation.


Melanie Pitman said...

Cooler than Batman, eh. I'm in.

Anonymous said...

So, while I would like to thank you for the very useful information about organ donation, I would like to point out that in Nova Scotia, no one in recorded history has been killed by a black bear. Grizzly bears, on the other hand, have been known to be rather aggressive and perhaps involved in organ removal, so it may have been more appropriate to use the grizzly in your example. My donor card has been signed for as long as I can remember. My family knows (and in case they forget is in writing here so that should give it some legal standing) that upon my demise I will donate anything that is of any possible use to another human being, and really, if it could be of use, to any black bear too. My kids are organ donors too. I will do my best to kick the bucket in a hospital!Seriously....great information. Everyone should sign their donor cards. If you are struggling making a decision remember that someday it could be you or a loved one needing help.

Cassey said...

Excellent overview... I'm not sure why the thoughts of organ donation is scary, but for some reason it is. I hope people will read your blog and understand just how important it is to be part of this.