Friday, March 8, 2013

Organ donation and faith perspectives

St. Louis Today

Few days ago I was called to read an electroencephalogram (EEG) on a comatose patient for possible brain death. The EEG and blood flow studies were consistent with brain death. Family had consented to donate the organs for transplant; a very hard for the family. You are losing a life and hoping to save others’.

Each year all over the hospitals in America families and medical professionals make these decisions; but still we are losing so many lives due to lack of donors. About 7000 people die each year that are on wait list for organ transplantation. It is estimated that about 15,000 may be potential donors each year in USA, but only fraction are realized. Making a personal decision to donate one’s organs or made by a family member in the absence of known wishes of the loved one, is a very complex issue. For so many reasons we tend to postpone to make this choice; prefer not to face the uncomfortable topic of death, lack of information regarding the process of donation, spiritual aspects, all weigh on the matter. Education of society is very limited; there is no concerted effort to inform the public about the importance of making this decision in our lives, so that we save our loved ones anguish of making this decision on our behalf.

Studies have shown that to make changes in society’s attitudes towards health secular and spiritual sectors have to collaborate. As the faith and spirituality shape our decisions and especially in this sensitive issue of organ donation; it is important that faith communities enhance the education on this delicate issue.
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