My nephew, Ty, committed suicide Jan 2, 2010. His family was contacted by the local donor society shortly after he was pronounced dead. Ty believed the myth that a full effort would not be made to save his life, in the event of an accident, if he was a registered donor. My sister made the decision to donate his organs, despite Ty’s fears. In life, Ty was an extremely loving, generous person and would have been happy to give away what he no longer needed.
Because of amount the time that elapsed between Ty’s death and official police release of his body to the coroner, only his corneas, his heart valve, and the large veins in his legs could be used for transplant. His corneas gave sight to two blind people. His heart valve saved a life. The veins from his legs were used for bypass surgery, allowing for a longer, better quality of life for the recipients. It is gratifying to know that Ty was able to perform such a valuable service for so many people.
With so many myths regarding organ donation, it can become difficult to tell what is true. One of the most common misunderstanding is that emergency personnel will allow someone who is a registered organ donor to die, rather than making an effort to save their life, if their organs are a match for someone famous, rich or, somehow “more important”. The truth is that emergency crews are there to save lives and will do whenever possible, regardless of a person’s wishes regarding organ donation.
Other myths are that a person can be too old or young to be a donor, be unable to donate due to preexisting health conditions, or that organ donation is against religious beliefs. Some people believe that an open casket viewing is not possible if the choice to be a donor is made. Most of the myths are untrue. Organs are needed for people of all ages and races. Most religions do not have doctrine prohibiting organ donation and most illnesses or disease will not prohibit use of at least some organs. An open casket viewing is possible for organ donors, as clothing covers any area used for organ or tissue donation. Efforts are made to preserve the integrity of the body. If bones are donated, metal rods will be inserted in their place, so the body will look natural. The organ donor’s family is never charged for organ and tissue removal. The organ recipient is responsible for those costs. Get the facts here: Mayo Clinic or here Donate the Gift of Life
One donor can provide organs and tissue to save, or improve the quality of up to 50 lives. In the United States alone, there are more than 100,000 people waiting for organ or tissue transplants. There are far more people on waiting lists than there are on registered organ donor lists. As soon as possible after a death is reported, a representative from the local organ donation society will contact the deceased’s relatives, This may seem heartless, but it is necessary if organs are going to be used for transplant. There is a small window of time after death occurs before the organs are no longer viable.
I am happy to know that there are still parts of Ty alive and well, somewhere in this world.