organ donation, political issue bleh

  1. Ya know I've kinda always been known as a nice polite respectful young thing , go with the flow kinda gal but something that was said to me a little while ago really rubbed me the wrong way.
    We were discussing organ donation at work , and I was talking about how I think its crazy for organs to go to waste and a little about how its terrible that so many people die while waiting on a the transplant list etc etc when someone suggested that organ donation seemed to be a political cause of mine and that I should respect the fact that some people just find it apphaling to donate a loved ones organs and that a person should be "buried whole and complete".
    I respect everyones right to an opinion on any and every topic, firm believer in the fact that we can really all agree to disagree on some things, but this person made it seem to all around that I was pimping some big political agenda and couldnt see the other side of the story.
    what I wanted to say to her but didnt ,and what I will share with you my trusted friends is that my "political cause" has a name, Rena.
    Growing up the person I felt closest too was always my aunt Rena, she lived half an hour away yet her home seemed like home to me. We would always joke that I was meant to be her daughter because we were so much alike. I picked up on many Rena'isms growing up, some great like my ability to see the good in most everyone, some not so great, like the fact I wear my heart on my sleeve and get taken advantage of many times. Rena, my moms oldest sister was the person I admired most in my life, gave me my first haircut - thus starting the infamous "wendy looks like a little boy with a dress on" photo collection, she held my hand when I got my ear pierced - yep I said ear, I was such a wimp that I could only stand one ear to be done!, when my parents were caught up in the swirling events of my fathers affair and the breakdown of their marriage my aunt Rena got this life of mine back on track. It wasnt easy being 12 and having your world fall apart before your eyes, it was made much easier by knowing that there was at least one person on this planet who was there for you, regardless of time or circumstance.
    My mom lost her sister Mary in 1995, she got extremely ill and to this day we dont know exactly what caused her death, but Mary being the nurse she was probably realized that she was very sick and did not want to live the way she saw many of her patients live and die. Mary was 54 when she died. My aunt Rena was the one to snap us all out of the sadness we were feeling, the life of the party. She started feeling ill herself and finally after much prompting by all of her friends and her family she went to the doctor. I only wish I was a nurse with some medical knowledge back then because surely I could have seen some signs or symptoms of what turned out to be advance stage liver disease. People assumed left right and center that my aunt Rena was a drinker, far from it , she was married to an alcoholic for years and never had a drop to drink.... the doctors agreed that she had many congenital liver problems and would need a transplant. She accepted this , refused to get down about it and life pretty much carried on. Until one day she got so sick she would have to be flown to a regional transplant center and spend the rest of her wait there.
    by this time I was graduating highschool, falling in love for the first time , trying to figure out what to do with my life and worried sick about my aunt Rena. We didnt live in the same city as the regional transplant center so we made frequent trips each time they thought they had a liver, and then it would go to someone sicker, or wasnt suitable etc. One time my aunt even got to the OR and then was returned because the organ wasnt suitable, she woke up thinking she had her transplant already. then on mothers day 1996 we got word that there was a liver on the way for her, the roller coaster of emotions just boiled over.....so excited happy scared nervous, I went to her early that morning and told her all the things I was feeling and that she was gonna be just fine! 8 and a half hours later they let me in the recovery room to see her, the Dr said that we were lucky cuz she was on borrowed time with that liver of hers....recovery wise she had setbacks , wasnt breathing great, not maintaining sats, infections etc so she had to be trached - this happened on her 56th birthday. All in all the road was extremely hard,but not unbearable, until we learned that the anti rejection drugs had fostered the growth of an inoperable brain tumour , she died in september at 56 years old , my mom lost both her sisters within 1 calendar year and I lost my number one fan,biggest supporter and the person who understood me the most.
    til the day she died her liver worked wonderfully...she could have lived from that transplant, I am forever in debt to the family who made that tough decision , although it didnt work out, the choice to donate that liver mattered to people, it mattered to me and it mattered to my aunt.
    hearing someone trivilize all I went through by calling it a political cause just got to me
    sorry for rambling
    you really would have loved my aunt Rena guys..
    there are few people in this world that you could listen to forver , turn to for support, who make you smile just by being around and who care about everyone they encounter, she was one of these people.
    its not a political cause to me, its personal.
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  2. 20 Comments

  3. by   Anaclaire
    Your Aunt Rena sounds like a truly wonderful treasure of a woman! I'm so very glad you had her in your life and I'm sure her spirit is alive in your heart every day!

    You will always have dear cyberfriends here who will understand situations like you encountered at work concerning organ donation. It's great to have a place like this during such times!

    I too am in favor of organ donation. I have been since I first heard about it when I was a teen back in the 1970's. To my young mind it just seemed like a natural, compassionate thing to be able to do. ALL my family and friends know my feelings if a situation should arise where I could become an organ donor and the fact that I'm an organ donor is printed on my driver's license.

    Like many topics, this one is one that many people feel very, very strongly about. It's one of those subjects, that, if people have already made up their minds about, they will probably not change. On the other hand there are still many people who have not really given much thought to organ donation--- that's why I still say something positive about it whenever I have a chance--- so that a positive view can be entered into their conscious along with any negative ones that come along. I think of it as planting seeds that a person can either water or let dry up and die...

    I'm hoping the seeds I plant will be watered...

    By the way, did you get a chance to see any of the ABC channel program of 4 segments titled "ICU - Arkansas Children's Hospital"? The last show aired last night (8/28/02). They focused on the open heart surgery department and really showed the positive side of organ donation and the deep sadness experienced by the children and families who weren't able to have transplants. I thought it was FANTASTIC... really focused on the emotional aspects of the medical field.

    Hang in there and don't let "them" get you down for too long!
    I feel certain your Aunt Rena is watching over you daily too!:angel2:

    Warmly,
    Anaclaire
  4. by   hapeewendy
    thank you Anaclaire
    actually I was prompted to write my feelings down on this website because of the show arkansas ICU
    the story of johnta had me devastated last night....
    got me in thinkers mode
    and the idiotic comments of my co worker came flashing back.....
    thanks for your support
    my aunt died in September so this time of year is always tricky even 6 years later....
  5. by   imenid37
    i respect that everyone has the right to their own decisions/opinions, but i almost feel (my opinion) that organ donation is my moral obligation. i know everyone does not feel this way. we talked about this at work a few weeks ago. several of the girls said they wouldn't want to be organ donors, they said. it was hard for them to respond to the point that if gravely ill, would they refuse to be organ recipients or allow their child to recieve an organ? something to ponder, isn't it? i am sorry for the loss of your aunt. she sounds like a lovely person.
  6. by   sunnygirl272
    ok..i think i have asked this question on this board before....
    i am not allowed to donate blood...because i have IBD..(inflammoatory bowel disease, not to be confused with IBS, irritable bowel syndrome) anyway...the rationale being that they don't know conclusively what causes IBD...many possibilities, many theories...soooo...would this bear on my ability to be organ donor?
    always have other more important things to discuss with my gastroenterologist when i am at my 6month followups..
  7. by   CardioTrans
    I dont know where to start......... I am currently working in a Heart/Lung transplant unit. When i was 13 yrs old, my best friend was killed in a car accident........ she was 12, ironically, she died at the very hospital that I work at now. Her mother chose to donate her organs. Her mothers comments were, "At least I will know that part of her is alive somewhere, helping someone else to live life" One person can save at least 6 lives. That is 6 people who are on borrowed time, who without the organ donation might not have the chance to see their children grow up, they may never get married, they may never celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, or hold their first grandchild.

    Working in my unit that I do, I see the sickest of the sick, they come into our unit from different states, different cities, hoping that they will be able to get their transplant and be able to go home. Some people stay in our unit for months or longer, patiently waiting. There are many ups and downs, being called to say we have a match, then to find out the donor organ is not compatible for one reason or the other. Then being called again and again then finally one day they recieve their transplant and have a totally new lease on life. They tend to look at life completely different. Its like watching your children touch the grass for the first time with their little feet, or seeing a beautiful and breathtaking sunset and it having a whole new meaning. These people have a 2nd chance to tell their loved ones how much they love them, a 2nd chance to mend broken relationships.

    Organ donation is not a political issue............ its a life issue. I am sorry to ramble but this is something that I feel strongly about. I have told my family that if any organs or tissues of mine could be used for someone else when my time comes....... to donate them. My family may feel a terrible loss at that time, but at least someone will be able to live.
  8. by   renerian
    My family knows I want to be an organ donor and I am on the national bone marrow donor registry. I would be happy if the last thing I could do for people would be to give life to another being.
  9. by   deespoohbear
    Here in Indiana we have to notify the organ procurement people of every death at the hospital, stillborns up to 110. We call the place in Ft. Wayne, give them the pt's name, age, cause of death, whether or not they were on a vent. Then they tell us if the deceased is a suitable candidate for donation. If the deceased is a suitable candidate one of our designated requesters will talk to the family about donation. If the deceased is not a candidate for donation, nothing is said to the family and the funeral home is contacted to come remove the body. Doesn't anyone else have to notify organ procurement? We were told a couple of years ago this was a federal mandate and if that we didn't comply with calling the organ procurement people, we could lose our Medicare reimbursement. I was also told that if a person had on their driver's license or written down they wanted to be donor, the family could no longer override that decision. I would like hearing from anyone who is more aware of the laws than I am.

    PS-My husband and I are both signed up of for donation.
  10. by   live4today
    Originally posted by hapeewendy
    ................................................
    til the day she died her liver worked wonderfully...she could have lived from that transplant, I am forever in debt to the family who made that tough decision , although it didnt work out, the choice to donate that liver mattered to people, it mattered to me and it mattered to my aunt.
    hearing someone trivilize all I went through by calling it a political cause just got to me
    sorry for rambling
    you really would have loved my aunt Rena guys..
    there are few people in this world that you could listen to forver , turn to for support, who make you smile just by being around and who care about everyone they encounter, she was one of these people.
    its not a political cause to me, its personal.
    ((((((((((((((hapeewendy)))))))))))) :kiss

    I feel your heart right now, kiddo, and wish I could hug you in the flesh, but hope you feel my spirit hugging you from afar.

    I too had an Aunt Mary.....and like your Aunt Rena.....my Aunt Mary was the same kind of auntie to my siblings and I. My Aunt Mary died at the age of 51 from a brain aneurysm. It was a sudden death. I was just in my mid twenties when she passed on. To this day, I miss her love. She was one of those women who could not have her own children for health reasons, but she had PLENTY of children....if you know what I mean.....and she gave soooooo much love to them all.

    I find it very heartwarming to hear others....like yourself.....who have the desire to donate whatever organ they have to save the life of another human being. I, too, am an organ donor. Whatever organ in my body that can be spared and passed on to help save another life...I want to donate it after my demise. My family knows this...and I'm sure my husband will make sure my wishes are carried out. Then....cremate the rest.

    Thank you hapeewendy for sharing that very beautiful and inspiring part of your family tree with us. It certainly lifted my spirits this morning, and made me pause.....if but for a moment....and be thankful for all that I have, all that I have to give, and all others give me in return. I embrace you today, and identify with your plight in regards to this issue. :kiss

    Here are three little angels that I would like for you to think of today as you and your two aunties. May your memories of your aunties be a blessing to you always. Some memories are great to have, aren't they!
  11. by   researchrabbit
    Originally posted by CardioTrans
    Organ donation is not a political issue............ its a life issue.
    I too will be an organ donor if possible. And I advocate organ donation whenever I get a chance.

    I understand that for some people it is a religious objection (in which case they neither would give an organ or take one).

    Some people can't encompass the death of their loved one. If they were to donate the organs of a loved one, then they have to acknowledge that person is really, truly dead.

    When it is not a religious objection, sometimes people do change their stance on this as they mature and realize that body integrity after death really doesn't mean much (and if they've paid any attention to what funeral homes do to bodies...not like you're in a natural state when they get through with you, either!)

    Personally, I would not care to have my discarded bits go through the embalming process, so I can understand why someone might feel the same about donation.

    I also don't think I'd care to leave my body to a medical school unless I were CERTAIN it would stay in the school until they were done with it -- had a surreal experience at a conference for plastic surgeons once...
  12. by   RNinICU
    Originally posted by deespoohbear
    Here in Indiana we have to notify the organ procurement people of every death at the hospital, stillborns up to 110. We call the place in Ft. Wayne, give them the pt's name, age, cause of death, whether or not they were on a vent. Then they tell us if the deceased is a suitable candidate for donation. If the deceased is a suitable candidate one of our designated requesters will talk to the family about donation. If the deceased is not a candidate for donation, nothing is said to the family and the funeral home is contacted to come remove the body. Doesn't anyone else have to notify organ procurement? We were told a couple of years ago this was a federal mandate and if that we didn't comply with calling the organ procurement people, we could lose our Medicare reimbursement. I was also told that if a person had on their driver's license or written down they wanted to be donor, the family could no longer override that decision. I would like hearing from anyone who is more aware of the laws than I am.

    PS-My husband and I are both signed up of for donation.
    We do the same thing here in PA. Families have on occassion refused to give permission for organ harvesting even when the patient has indicated that he is a donor. I am an organ donor, but my husband feels very strongly that organ donation is wrong. We have had many lively discussions about the matter. This is one issue we will probably never agree on. That is why I have made my daughter POA in my advance directive. He would never allow donation, but she shares my views. He knows I have made her POA and understands why. I thought he would be upset about it, but is actually relieved that the decision is taken out of his hands. He said it would be very difficult to agree to donation, but just as difficult to go against my wishes.
  13. by   P_RN
    SCOPA (SC organ procurement agency) is called with every death and given the details. They will call back within a few minutes and take care of the rest.

    On my driver's license there is a little RED HEART next to my name.
    (That stands for donor.) I have told my doctor and have given him a copy of my living will, donor status, and healthcare power of attorney.

    If any little part of my body could help anyone they are welcome to have it. I don't think I have ever met a recipient, but several friends and relatives are also listed.

    Why on earth anyone would want to bury organs that could save lives is way beyond me.
    Last edit by P_RN on Sep 13, '02
  14. by   Tookie
    Good thread Wendy

    Believe in donation - it is a personal issue - but very important - l as l said in another thread - l was so proud of a friend of mine who has just donated one of her kidneys to someone - l think that is an amazing gift.

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