Sunday, January 5, 2014

I am an Organ Donor

My donor card
It was in the early 2000 when I started thinking about being an organ donor. I just arrived in Germany and being in a new land, I tried to keep myself connected with my family in the Philippines by regularly sending snail mails.

I corresponded regularly with my cousins; one of them happened to be very sick. In her late 40s, she also has a daughter, my goddaughter, who is a special child. Her husband, very much older than she, is overwhelmed by the responsibility of having a special child. He became depressive, and therefore, cannot find a job and could not even left alone to take care of their child.

My cousin,  a social worker who works in a government office, tried very hard to earn money for the family and take care of her special child.

The last letter I received from her was that she was looking for donations to buy her special child a wheelchair. Her special child is growing up, and since she cannot walk, they have to cannot carry her all around. A wheelchair would make it easier for her and for the whole family, too.

I didn’t know then that my cousin, herself, was also looking for donation . Her lungs are failing her. When I heard about it after a call from my mother; I really thought about donating lung for her.

But then after a second of thinking about it, I had to squash the idea simply because I have found a lot of excuses: I have a small child which I don’t want to leave; I cannot leave my family in Germany; I am afraid about the surgery; I think that the operation would make me weak and I cannot perform the normal daily chores anymore;  I am afraid that it would hurt; a lot of things flooded my mind that I wasn’t able to even voice it out nor write about it at all.

I don’t know if my cousin ever received my letter – because a few weeks after learning of her condition, she died. No organ donors, apparently. I was so sorry to know about that but...

Afterwards, I never gave any thought about organ donation anymore.

That was, until a month ago. I saw a small coupon urging people to be an organ donor in our local newspaper. It was a simple invitation. Simply cut out the coupon, write down your personal details; send them to the address indicated and you will receive an identification card stating that you are an organ donor.
Or better yet, you can go to their internet website and you can download the same coupon and register. You will receive your organ donor identification card through snail mail.

I intended to cut the coupon out. But in the chaos of the day, I forgot about the newspaper page and it was too late when I went back to it. The newspaper is already in the garbage bin.

But I could search the internet for it, right? I didn’t do it right away. I wanted to talk to my husband first. I wanted to ask people first. In fact, I posted about it in my Facebook wall: If anyone in my FB friends are organ donors, please leave a message.

There were two people in my more than 400 FB friends that responded. Both of them have an organ donor notice in their driver’s licence. Both of them are Filipinos who are now living in the United States. And both of them said: ‘I won’t be needing my organs anymore if I am dead, so I have decided to donate them.’
That is what I thought, too. Plus, it seems good to know that somewhere, somehow – I would have made a difference in someone else’s life and family. A part of me would live. And that makes my own cycle of life a cycle of love. Enough of this dramatic, though.

There are millions of people all over the world who are waiting for organ transplants. I wonder how many organ donors are there? There are million organ donors, too – but from what I have read, not enough to meet the need. (Let’s not talk about organ harvesting and selling organs, that would be for another article)
In my research online, I realized that there are also people who are living organ donors. These are usually people who have close emotional relationship to the recipient. Although there are also people who donate organs for altruistic reasons.

I don’t think I could be so altruistic when it comes to my organs when I am still alive. Though I am sure my mind could change drastically when an organ is needed by someone I love.

But, I am seriously considering being an organ donor. Yet before I finally register and sign-up, I needed to do the following first:

-       -   Inform my family about my decision to be an organ donor. I want to make them understand my decision.
-          I wanted to be MORE informed first. I have definitely decided to be an organ donor, but not as a living donor. There is a big difference!

-And as soon as I have done both things, I will consent to have all organs donated. You see, one could specify organ donations. In the Philippines, check out the Human Organ Preservation Effort for more information. Other sites that you could visit to be informed about organ donations: here, here, and here.

Don’t you know that you are allowed to change your mind? You simply need to inform the authorities, when and if!

But of course, once I have decided to become an organ donor; I would stay as an organ donor.

How about you? Be informed. Be an organ donor.

P.S. My girls seemed to have some interest in organ donation. They kept on checking out my organ donor card and asking questions, and I always try to answer them as truthfully as I can.

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