The Gift of Life
Death is often an unpleasant thought, even though it is a simple fact of life. For some it is a welcome event that can alleviate pain and suffering and can sometimes save the life of another. Receiving a needed organ often means the difference between life and death. Many people have misconceptions regarding organ donation, some do not realize the vast numbers on waiting lists. Others may be apprehensive about making a decision about their bodies after death. According to the National Network of Organ Donors, “nineteen people die every day in this country waiting for an organ transplant” (NNOD). Organ and tissue donation offer the gift of life however, many factors such as ...view middle of the document...
For a deceased donor, the organs and tissues that are in good condition are removed in a surgical procedure and all incisions are closed so an open casket funeral can take place. Living individuals can donate one of their two kidneys and the remaining kidney provides the necessary function needed to remove waste from the body. Single kidney donation is the most frequent living donor procedure. A living donor can donate one of two lobes of their liver. This is possible because liver cells in the remaining lobe regenerate until the liver is almost its original size. Living donors can also donate a lung or part of a lung, part of the pancreas, or part of the intestines. Although these organs do not regenerate, both the donated portion of the organ and the portion remaining with the donor are fully functioning. Tissues can also be donated.
Tissues donated by living donors are blood, marrow, blood stem cells, and umbilical cord blood. A healthy body can easily replace some tissues such as blood or bone marrow. Potential living donors are evaluated to determine his or her suitability to donate. The evaluation includes both the possible psychological response and physical response to the donation process.
Organ donation and transplantation carry with them some unique ethical implications. According to Veatch, “it is clear that choosing an ethical principle (to guide decisions in organ donation and transplantation) determines some very practical matters, including who lives and who dies” (Veatch). There are many elements of organ donation and transplantation that create ethical dilemmas. The difficult resolution of these questions is largely attributed to the discrepancy between the number of potential recipients and the scarcity of available organs. Issues related to organ donation create a number of unique and intriguing challenges that are not easily resolved.
Despite the advances in medicine and technology, the demand for organs drastically outnumbers the number of organ donors. According to The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) the chronic shortage of organ donors is the most critical issue facing the field of organ transplantation (UNOS). The current approach to acquiring organs for transplantation relies on the voluntarism of live donors and the grace of deceased donor families.
Increased educational expenditures have frequently been used as a way of motivating people to become donors. The Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs) have launched substantial promotional campaigns. The campaigns have been designed to educate the general public about the desperate need for donated organs. Recent evidence, suggests that further spending on these programs is unlikely to increase supply by a significant amount (Beard). As a result, there are many new proposed solutions to solve the organ shortage problem.
One controversial proposal is to provide individuals with some type of incentive to become a donor. It is currently illegal to...