Please register as an organ donor

2011-04-24

in Law

In most jurisdictions, you need to take action in order to be registered as an organ donor. In Ontario, for instance, you can sign up when you update your health card. You can also complete a form available online and mail it in. I really encourage people to do so. Those who choose not to be organ donors are effectively saying: “In the event of my untimely death, I would rather have my organs be burned or rot in the ground than have them save or improve the life of someone else”. To me, that seems needless and perhaps selfish.

Those who ride bicycles or motorcycles are especially encouraged to sign up. Compared to the population as a whole, they face a significantly higher risk of dying from a traumatic head injury that leaves their other organs usable.

Quite possibly, it would be better to have an ‘opt out’ system, where it would be assumed that everyone is willing to donate their organs unless they specifically register an objection. That would increase the availability of organs for transplant, without impinging on the right people have for their organs to remain unused upon their deaths.

Personally, I am signed up to donate anything and everything there is any need for. I think my body should be put to the best possible use upon my death. The highest value use is clearly organ donation, if applicable. Failing that, I would want the nutrients in my flesh to return to the biosphere quickly and in a usable form – no cremation or burial in a concrete vault for me, please.

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt April 25, 2011 at 1:25 am

So in the event of a death in which your organs are not usable (which is probably most deaths), for the record, how would you like your remains handled?

Sea burial? This seems like a plausible way to fulfill your criteria. I don’t think many jurisdictions allow for putting a body in the ground without a casket.

Milan April 25, 2011 at 10:36 am

A simple wooden casket would be fine.

alena April 25, 2011 at 2:03 pm

I believe that you cannot place a casket in the ground outside of a designated area. It is easier to choose a location if the remains are cremated.

oleh April 25, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Donating one’s organs is such a good idea, especially with the need being so high and advancing technology. I will look into confirming that I have registered.

Another donation to consider is donating blood. It takes about an hour. In Vancouver there are two permanent places to do so and there are also convenient traveling clinics. You can set up an appointment. In Canada, the phone number to set up an appointment is 1-888-2DONATE. or 1-888=236-6283. You also get cookies and coffee or juice at the end.

oleh April 25, 2011 at 10:04 pm

It is also possible to donate your whole body to research to be used in med schools etc.

. April 25, 2011 at 11:03 pm

# One donor can save up to eight lives through organ donation and enhance the lives of up to 75 others through tissue donation. Every three days someone dies in Ontario waiting for a life-saving transplant. There is a chronic shortage of organs and tissue in Ontario and the need for organs and tissue continues to outweigh their availability. More than 1,600 Ontarians are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant and thousands more are waiting for a tissue transplant.

# Everyone is a potential organ and tissue donor, regardless of their age. To date, the oldest Canadian organ donor was over 90 years of age while the oldest tissue donor was 102 years old.

# Ultimately the ability to become an organ and tissue donor depends on several factors including the health of the organs and tissue at the time of death.

# Recovery of organs and tissue is carried out with respect and dignity. It does not interfere with funeral practices and no one will know about your gift of life unless your family tells them.

# Organs and tissue that can be donated after death include the heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, small bowel, stomach, corneas, heart valves, bone and skin.

# Studies show that donating the organs and tissue of a loved one who has died can provide immediate comfort and long-lasting consolation to family members in their grieving.

. April 25, 2011 at 11:07 pm

What does it mean to consent to donate organs and tissue for research?

Much medical research depends on the use of human biological material. It often provides the best way of understanding how the body works and reacts to treatment. It can also help advance and improve organ and tissue transplantation. If for some reason your organs and tissues cannot be transplanted, they can be donated for research purposes if you have specifically indicated consent to donate organs and tissue for both transplant and research.

How do I donate my body to science?

Donating your organs and tissues for research is different than donating your body to science. If you do not wish to donate organs, you may want to support teaching and research activities at a medical school by considering whole body donation, an important gift to the training of professionals in health-related disciplines.

For more information about whole body donation, please call the anatomy school of your choice or the Office of the Chief Coroner at 1-877-991-9959. If you give your body to medical science, your organs and tissue will not be available for transplantation. Similarly, if you donate organs or tissue, you cannot donate your body to science.

oleh May 10, 2011 at 5:17 am

Last week Derek Miller died at age 41 of colonorectal cancer at age 41. His family includes his wife Air and their two daughters aged 11 and 13. I remember Derek’s band the Neurotics which played on the high stage every year as the Sun Run started.

Derek had been a blogger for 13 years. His blog http://www.penmachine.com had recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. Derek’s family posted his last blog entry a few days ago. This was reported on by Pete McMartin in the Vancouver Sun. I was blown away by his perspective and message. I do not know if Derek donated any tissue or organs. I expect that they were too unhealthy to be used in other people. However, he donated his gift of a message. More than one million people have viewed his last post. I thought it was well worth reading. It helped put my life in perspective.

oleh May 10, 2011 at 5:19 am

When I conclude, that it helped put my life in perspective, I meant it made me realize that I have very little reason to complain. I am struck by the dignity with which Derek writes.

Matt May 10, 2011 at 3:35 pm

I read Derek Miller’s blog post after having seen it on Reddit.com, a popular link site.

I had never heard of him prior, but his ‘beyond the grave’ last post is definitely a compelling read, especially on the subjects of confronting one’s mortality, death and religion, and dying young.

Milan May 11, 2011 at 6:16 pm

That’s definitely a poignant piece of writing.

. June 14, 2011 at 9:44 am

Canadian Blood Services urges revamp of organ donor system
 
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/new-health/health-news/canadian-blood-services-urges-revamp-of-organ-donor-system/article2059580/
 
LISA PRIEST, KAREN HOWLETT AND ADRIAN MORROW
From Tuesday’s Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Jun. 14, 2011 12:00AM EDT
 
Canada’s organ donation system is failing patients, and the solutions include having registries in each province and depending less on the United States for tissue, a new report says.
 
The Canadian Blood Services Call to Action report says implementing its recommendations would result in almost 1,000 more life-saving transplants annually and get patients off costly dialysis.
 
Although the costs of implementation would be high during the first five years, it would decrease to $47.8-million by Year 10.
 
Of particular concern is tissue donation – transplants of corneas and heart valves, grafts of bone and skin – said the report, obtained by The Globe and Mail, noting “Canada imports approximately 80 per cent of its tissue product – a dependency that could pose risks to Canadian patients.”

Matt January 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm

I was reading about this method of body disposal today: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alkaline_hydrolysis

Seems like a perfect fit for one concerned about CO2 emission associated with cremation. Sorry the thread I’m posting in is not a perfect fit.

Milan January 24, 2012 at 7:36 pm

No worries, re: thread applicability.

Thanks for the link.

. March 17, 2015 at 8:42 am

But something positive came from the family’s tragedy: Ding’s organs helped six people with terminal medical conditions, according to a letter Wang received from the Trillium Gift of Life Network.

A boy and man with extensive liver damage received a liver lobe and liver transplant. A man and young girl, both with end-stage renal disease, received Ding’s kidneys, freeing them from the burdens of dialysis treatment. A woman with diabetes was given Ding’s pancreas; a man with irreversible heart disease has a second chance at life after receiving Ding’s heart.

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/03/13/six-patients-live-after-toronto-mothers-tragic-death.html

. February 20, 2016 at 12:02 am

OVER the course of an average winter North American wood frogs, Rana sylvatica, may freeze solid several times. They are able to get away with this by replacing most of the water in their bodies with glucose mobilised from stores in their livers. That stops ice forming in their tissues as temperatures drop. When things warm up again, the frogsicles thaw out, with no evident ill effects.

What frogs do without thinking, human researchers are trying, with a great deal of thinking, to replicate. The prize is not the freezing and reanimation of entire people—that idea is somewhere between a fantasy and a fraud—but the long-term preservation of organs for transplant. According to the World Health Organisation, less than 10% of humanity’s need for transplantable organs is being met. The supply has fallen as cars have become safer and intensive-care procedures more effective, and part of what supply there is is lost for want of an instantly available recipient. Cooled, but not frozen, a donated kidney might last 12 hours. A donated heart cannot manage even that span. If organs could be frozen and then thawed without damage, all this would change. Proper organ banks could be established. No organs would be wasted. And transplants that matched a patient’s requirements precisely could be picked off the shelf as needed.

http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21690025-after-decades-piecemeal-progress-science-cryogenically-storing-human

. August 23, 2016 at 4:56 pm

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