You have the power to save and transform lives with organ donation. It might be daunting, and emotionally charged, and something we’d rather not think about. But for the 2000 desperate Australians currently awaiting an organ; its life and death. For them, it's the difference between living free in health, or constrained by illness. For you, it’s a choice you can make today. A choice to make a difference, a choice to leave a legacy, and a choice; to impact the lives, the families and the futures of others in need.
Okay but what actually is organ donation?
Currently, around 2000 Australians are in desperate need of a new organ. Another 13,000 are on dialysis and in potential eligibility for a new kidney. These people can range from babies to pensioners, and are usually very ill or dying because an organ is failing.
Organ and tissue donations use parts of your body to give life back to these people, with astronomical impact on their quality of life. Heart, bone and corneal donations this year have allowed kids in Sydney to make dreams for the future, girls in WA get back to their dancing and fathers in Queensland see their kids again.
The potential impact is huge, and just one tissue or organ donation can transform the lives of 10 or more people.
That’s great, but what happens to my body?
The way you die will affect the donation process and which organs and tissues can be donated. For organs to be donated, you need to die in a hospital, usually on a ventilator in a situation where your organs are working well enough to be transplanted. Whilst this can actually be quite uncommon, in contrast eye and tissue donations are less restrictive and can occur up to 24 hours after your death.
These donations will only proceed if there’s a match on the waitlist. And donation specialist staff will keep in contact with your family in the aftermath to provide support and information.
Lets create some further clarity, by debunking some common myths...
Myth #1: So, if I donate my organs, will my family lose access to my body?
No. Removing organs and tissue is no different from any other surgical operation and is performed by highly skilled health professionals. They’re experts in ensuring organ or tissue donation does not alter the physical appearance of a body, so that your family can still view, bury or cremate your body.
Myth #2: So if there’s no match for my organs, will my body go to medical research?
Another no! Donated organs and tissue are never used for medical research and there won’t be any mix up’s- given the need for explicit, written permission from your family for release the body to medical research. Either way, respect and dignity is of huge priority in this industry, so whatever choices you’ve expressed in life or your family in your death, your body will be managed with expert care at all stages in the process.
Myth #3: Okay, but isn’t organ donation against some religions?
It might be that organ donation goes against your personal or spiritual beliefs. But when it comes to religion, most major ones actually support organ donation as a way to help others and express compassion. This includes Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Judaism.
Myth #4: Surely, my old organs & pre-existing medical conditions aren’t welcome?
All are welcome! Whilst it's true that some medical conditions may prevent organ donation, there’s a lot this doesn’t cover. And ultimately, when it comes down to deciding whether or not to accept an organ transplantation, it’s based on the organ's quality and the recipient's need at that time, rather than the donor's medical history. At worst, the match doesn’t fit. At best, you’ve just changed someone's whole life and it's likely your tissues or corneas could still be used to have a profound impact on someone's life.
Myth #5: Won’t the doctors try less hard to save my life as a donor?
Back to the flat no’s! This is a common concern, but it's categorically not true. Healthcare professionals are all about saving lives, and they’ll work hard to save yours just like they would for anyone else.
Okay, okay- so how do I become an organ donor?
If you’ve decided to become an organ donor, that's great. It’s brave, and selfless and something you should be immensely proud of. But like everything else, don’t allow a lack of preparation to get in the way of your wishes. Even if you’ve put it in your will, make sure you register to be an organ donor as soon as possible, via:
your Medicare online account through myGov
the online form on the DonateLife website
This allows medical professionals to act before opportunities are wasted if there's a delay in looking at your will.
It’s also important to discuss your decision with your family and friends. Because regardless of what’s in your will or whether or not you’re registered, the donation won’t proceed without your family’s consent. They’re less likely to give consent if they don’t know your wishes, and having this conversation also provides an important opportunity to explain why this choice is important to you. For anyone in your family still unsure, you could even point them in the direction of this article, or other online resources to provide more information.
Keep up the momentum, and plan your future today
Protect your legacy by planning your estate and writing your will today. Providing clear directions, lower stress and helpful assets to support your family when they most need it. To through your options with one of our experts, give us a call on 1800 103 310, or start a chat now.