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Save Lives: A Donor Sister's Story


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This presentation was a part of a USDA/APHIS Partnership for Life Event. April 7, 2011

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Save Lives: A Donor Sister's Story

  2. 2. What is organ donation?
  3. 3. “I’m not gonna need ‘em when I’m dead.”At the age of 16, my brother made asimple but profound decision that all toosoon came to affect a vast circle of peoplein ways they could not have imagined.  Iwill never forget his excitement as hereached into his wallet to pull out hisbrand new driver’s license.  He was soproud, taking the time to walk methrough each element as if I’d never seenone before.  He was like that; charismatic,easy-going with an infectious sense ofhumor.  He pointed to the big heartindicating that he was an organ donor. “You’re an organ donor?” I interrogated. “Yeah…I’m not gonna need ‘em whenI’m dead,” he replied in a matter-of-factkind of manner.  Such a simple phrase toencompass a basic concept.  Yet theimplications, the influence, the ultimateimpact was in no way simple or basic. Needless-to-say, I never forgot thosewords.  Little did I know, just five shortyears later, they would serve as thecatalyst for my brother’s incrediblelegacy.
  4. 4. We could fill FedEx field to capacity and not haveenough seats for the more than 100,000 individualscurrently waiting for organ transplantation.…and each day 18 people die as they wait.
  5. 5. What organs can be donated?
  6. 6. Just how many people are waiting for these organs? on November 8, 2010
  7. 7. Every 11 minutes, another name is added to this waiting list.
  8. 8. What tissues can be donated? Bone for facial reconstruction, spinal and oral surgerys Cartilage for post-traumatic injury reconstructionc Cornea to restore eyesighti Fasciai Heart Valves to repair congenital heart defects Ligaments Pericardium for neurosurgeryy Skin to prevent infection in burn patientsc Tendons for joint reconstructive surgeryu Veins for heart bypass surgery
  9. 9. Why is there a lack of donors?Most people choose not to become an organ donor because theyhold on to any number of common myths and misconceptions.
  10. 10. I can’t donate because…The hospital staff wontwork as hard to save mylife.FACT. When you go to thehospital for treatment,doctors focus on savingyour life — not somebodyelses. Youll be seen by adoctor whose specialtymost closely matches yourparticular emergency. Thedoctor in charge of yourcare has nothing to dowith transplantation.
  11. 11. I can’t donate because…It is against my religion.FACT. Organ donation isan act of charity. Itconsistent with the beliefsof most religions. Thisincludes Catholicism,Protestantism, Islam andmost branches of Judaism.If youre unsure of oruncomfortable with yourfaiths position ondonation, ask a member ofyour clergy.
  12. 12. I can’t donate because…Im under age 18 and tooyoung to make thisdecision.FACT. Thats true, in a legalsense. But your parents canauthorize this decision. Youcan express to your parentsyour wish to donate, andyour parents can give theirconsent knowing that itswhat you wanted. Children,too, are in need of organtransplants, and they usuallyneed organs smaller thanthose an adult can provide
  13. 13. I can’t donate because…Im not in the best of health/too old and nobody wouldwant my organs or tissues.FACT. Very few medicalconditions automaticallydisqualify you from donatingorgans and theres no definedcutoff age. Organs have beensuccessfully transplanted fromdonors in their 80s. Thedecision to use an organ isbased on strict medical criteria.Only medical professionals atthe time of your death candetermine whether your organsare suitable for transplantation.
  14. 14. I can’t donate because…An open-casket funeral isntan option for people who havedonated organs or tissues.FACT. Organ and tissuedonation doesnt interfere withhaving an open-casket funeral.The donors body is clothed forburial, so there are no visiblesigns of organ or tissuedonation. For bone donation, arod is inserted where bone isremoved. With skin donation, avery thin layer of skin similarto a sunburn peel is taken fromthe donors back. Because thedonor is clothed and lying onhis or her back in the casket, noone can see any difference.
  15. 15. I can’t donate because…Rich and famous people go to thetop of the list when they need adonor organ.FACT. The rich and famous arentgiven priority when it comes toallocating organs. It may seemthat way because of the amount ofpublicity generated whencelebrities receive a transplant, butthey are treated no differentlyfrom anyone else. In fact, theUnited Network for OrganSharing (UNOS), the organizationresponsible for maintaining thenational organ transplantnetwork, subjects all celebritytransplants to an internal audit tomake sure the organ allocationwas appropriate.
  16. 16. I can’t donate because…I wouldnt be allowed todonate a kidney now, unlessone of my family members isin need.FACT. While that used to bethe case, it isnt any longer.Whether its a distant familymember, friend or completestranger you want to help, youcan donate a kidney throughcertain transplant centers. Ifyou decide to become a livingdonor, you will undergoextensive questioning to ensurethat you are aware of the risksand that your decision todonate isnt based on financialgain. You will also undergotesting to determine if yourkidneys are in good shape andwhether you can live a healthylife with just one kidney.
  17. 17. I can’t donate because…My family will be charged.FACT. The organ donorsfamily is never charged fordonating. The family ischarged for the cost of allfinal efforts to save your life,and those costs aresometimes misinterpreted ascosts related to organdonation. Costs for organremoval go to the transplantrecipient.
  18. 18. What can you do?ΠREGISTER to become an organ donor at your local DMV or securely online at DISCUSS your decision with your family and friends (you may inspire others to become organ donors too)
  19. 19. Be A Hero!1. Save as many as 9 lives.2. Enhance the lives of up to 50 people.3. Create an enduring legacy that can mitigate the grief and sorrow of those you leave behind.
  20. 20. Learn more at these websites…
  21. 21. Alisa Hughley, MPHDonor SisterVISIThttp://iiigifts.comQUESTIONS?Send them to