As I’m sure many of you are aware, you have the option to give your written consent to become an organ donor at the DMV when you receive your driver’s license, or at any other time you wish. Unfortunately, this does not guarantee that someone on UNOS will receive your organs if, God willing, tragedy or natural causes were to take your life.
Under our health care and legal system, unless your immediate family gives their permission, the hospital will not procure your organs regardless of your prior consent. It would seem that a written document would (and legally should) bind you to said agreement and in turn, they should grant you this selfless request to gift a part of you to someone in dire need.
Put it into this perspective: your mother or father catastrophically passed away unexpectedly. It would be undeniably difficult for anyone to sign away their loved one’s organs, especially in a state of grief. In fact, I think this would be an extremely uncomfortable situation to handle, especially if their consent was given and their wants clearly stated.
For this reason, the requests of the dead should be solidified and upheld through their signature on this document. Why isn’t such a system already in place and such requests granted? Simply, the hospitals fear a lawsuit from mourning family members, particularly if they are resistant to the idea of organ donation.
The sizable statistics of the potential (and actual) benefits of organ donation are difficult to argue with, as it reinstalls hope in those waiting and gives many a second chance at “normal life.” In fact, according to the National Network of Organ Donors webpage, these are simple percentages of transplant recipients that are still alive five years after their operation (as of May 4, 2009): kidney: 69.3 percent; liver: 73.8 percent; heart: 74.9 percent; and lung: 54.4 percent.