I know this is a bit off the topic of sewing/quilting/knitting but it's something I feel we all need to be talking more about. Being in the hospital setting makes you realise that the difficult and sensitive topic of organ donation could be made a whole lot easier if we all told people what we wanted! Currently in ITU there is a patient who isn't going to make it. He is effectively already dead. We are keeping him alive. The conversation they are going to have with his family is going to be incredibly hard. Make it easier for your family. Discuss organ donation!
Around 90% of people if you asked them in the street would say they are happy to donate organs, yet, when the time comes for families to discuss their loved ones wishes, only 60% say yes. WHY? Because they haven't ever talked about it. So, the families err on the side of caution and say no. What a shame that lovely organs from people who were happy to donate are going to waste because they haven't ever told anyone their wishes!
Why should we donate?
Well firstly, and this is a rather worrying statistic - WE ARE MORE LIKELY TO NEED AN ORGAN THAN TO ACTUALLY DONATE! Crazy I know!
In the UK alone there are over 10,000 people waiting for a transplant. That's over 10,000 people who's lives are made difficult by an organ that just isn't doing its job properly. Imagine that! Knowing that part of you isn't working and suffering to some extent because of it.
Sadly not all those people end up getting the organs they need. Each year here in the UK around 1,000 people die either waiting for an organ or by becoming too poorly to have the surgery needed to replace the organ. So that's a THOUSAND people dying because we cant get them a spare part! ONE THOUSAND! Now I don't know about you but I have around 700 facebook friends, I cant image all those people and more dying one year because some cheeky little organ is not playing ball.
My point is simple, you dont need them, but someone else does. I know we are becoming a wasteful single use society but surely organs are different. You wouldn't throw away a perfectly good hardwood front door just because the house was going to be demolished. You wouldn't throw away a whole quilt if it was stained. You would save and reuse the good bits. You would carefully cut the threads holding the good fabric to the tarnished fabric. You would lovingly reuse that patch and incorporate it into another beautiful quilt. So why do we insist on taking our squishy bits into the ground or furnace with us?
No one needs to be a superhero to save lives. You don't even have to be a nurse/doctor/fireman/etc. In fact each one of you have the potential to donate:
- one heart
- one set of lungs
- two kidneys
- one pancreas
- one lives
- some bowel
- the gift of sight to two people
Now how cool is that? Check out the Organ Donation Website for more info and to sign up!
Here's something else mad. You don't even have to be dead to donate organs. One in four donors are living donors. This works particularly well for kidneys because we are lucky enough to have two each. This means that provided you are healthy and your other kidney is working well, you could donate our spare kidney to someone else. To top that off you'll still be alive to revel in the glory of saving lives :)
Recently a living donor, kindly donated a womb to a woman so she could have a child, here is the link.
Unfortunately when we die we don't all die in a way that means are organs are good enough to donate. Hearts and other organs tend to 'go off' fairly rapidly. Because of this even if you want to donate your organs you might not be able to. This is where TISSUE DONATION is important.
This is something I didn't know all that much about until recently. Up to 24 and sometimes even 48 hours after death certain tissues can be used from the body. Examples of tissues that can be used include: skin, eyes, heart valves, bone and even some blood vessels. This is another donation you should talk to your family about. More Information Available here!
Ok, so you don't fancy handing over your organs? How about some bone marrow?
Bone marrow is the squishy middle bit of the big bones in your body. As parts of the body go, it's a pretty big deal with a hugely important job to do. It makes your blood. Considering how big a deal it is the poor thing doesn't get much attention.
Why do we need it? Well for all sorts of blood related illness, including the biggie you'll all have heard of....leukaemia. To put it incredibly simply they have shoddy bone marrow that has gone a bit mental and isn't doing it's really important job. The donor marrow is transplanted where it picks up the pieces and hopefully helps the patient get better.
How can you donate? This is the best bit, you donate bone marrow when you are alive! You can register by signing up next time you donate blood. Or by signing up to the Anthony Nolan trust where you post them some spit an they do the rest.
What then? They put your data and 'tissue type' onto a big system so when people with rubbish bone marrows come along they can match their tissue types up with potential donors. Similar to online dating really.
More info here.
If I've not convinced you so far maybe I can tempt you into donating some blood?
A shocking 96% of the population rely on the other 4% to provide them with blood. If nothing else go for the free biscuits and squash! YUM! It's also not that painful or scary. Ironically I used to be a bit of a needlephobic so the idea of letting someone have some of my blood was madness to me. Fortunately Papa Sutures (blood donor extraordinare) whisked me off to donate. And guess what? Wasn't that bad after all!
I feel very strongly about donating:
- my mum received blood when I was born
- I see patients who need blood/organs/bone marrow on the wards daily
- my cousin would be dead of someone hadn't donated their lungs to her
At the end of the day donation is a choice but please make sure you communicate your choice to those who matter!
THINK ABOUT IT