We all know that the public can help those suffering with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) lead a more full life by registering to be organ donors after their deaths. However, despite public campaigns over many years to increase the number of donations from deceased donors, there is still a severe shortage of kidneys. This is one reason why the waiting list for kidney transplants remains long.
90% of people say being a kidney donor is the "right thing to do" but only about 45% of adults, over the age of 18 are registered to donate. In the absence of a person being a registered donor, families are asked at the time a loved one dies to consent to kidney donation. Consent rates are significantly lower in such situations.
There are several reasons why a person chooses not to donate their organs upon death including: it conflicts with their religious beliefs, they are unsure what their organs will be used for, and simply because they want to keep all their organs in their bodies after death. Still, the biggest obstacle to having more kidney donors is procrastination. Few people make detailed plans for their death, so they often think that they have plenty of time to sign up later if they wish.
Some experts suggest the country should consider changing the current system to one of presumed-consent. Instead of asking people to "opt into" the system by indicating their willingness to be a donor, everyone in the country should be considered a donor unless they "opt out." The idea is that if I am automatically seen as a donor, I would not want to opt out, because the warm feeling that comes with being a donor goes away. While on the other hand, if I'm not automatically a donor, and you ask me to become one then I might start thinking about what it would be like to have my cadaver organs taken. So people are naturally drawn to the features of the object they are about to give up. That's a subtle but important psychological point. No wonder other countries such as Spain and Singapore have had more success with getting more organs through an opt-out system than those countries that rely on an op-in system such as the U.S.
Many decisions about being an organ donor are made at the DMV and the ICU which are not the appropriate places to make such a serious decision that should be discussed with your family. Facebook introduced an option that lets users add “Organ Donor” to their profiles, just as someone would add their favorite movies or marital status. It also provides users a quick link to sign up for the national registry of organ donation. With social media like Facebook and Twitter, the steps to consider donations, and to register, become more accessible and easier to participate in the program.
It is widely debated whether a person should be allowed to sell their kidneys for transplantation. The argument made by some professionals is that an open kidney market could encourage poorer people to sell their kidneys to the highest bidder out of desperation. Despite the debate, black market organ sales already exist and may even be reduced with a legal organ market. Also, poor people already sell their organs but the people they now deal with are criminals and they take extreme risks in doing so. Other professionals argue that legalized sales would offer better protection for the people who are now illegally selling their kidneys and could result in saving lives as people who are on the fence about donating their kidneys might be incented to do so for compensation. The argument is further extended to state that this change in policy would also be beneficial to those who cannot afford to pay for a kidney and are on the waiting list because it will help them move up the list sooner.
Hence, there is no simple answer to what is right and wrong with regards to organ donation. Even the laws vary by hospital, state and country because people cannot agree on the best policies. However, KidneyBuzz.com recommends that if you haven't registered to be an organ donor or aren't sure if you have, go to donatelife.net/register-now/, then click on your state and sign up.
"Experts Debate Best Way to Encourage More Organ Donors." USA Today.
News, Ankita Rao | Kaiser Health. "Facebook Raises The Status Of Organ Donation, Study Shows." Washington Post. T
"Medical Tourism." Legal And Ethical Issues Of Organ Transplants.