Being a Hero, Being an Organ Donor
Ever so often Geeker gets an opportunity to write about something that is truly inspiring and uplifting. While the topic of organ donation may not be incredibly popular or sought after by many, it nonetheless is a topic that contains an incredible number of inspiring stories and people – not the least of which is the inspiration for this blog, the book ‘Journey to Becoming an Organ Donor’.
The book covers Ari Sytner’s decision to donate his kidney to a stranger. In honor of Ari, other donors, and all the survivors out there, we’re going talk a little about kidney donation and the role it plays in today’s society.
Some Quick Facts About Organ Donation
This is an issue that affects thousands each year, yet many people still don’t really know all that much about organ donation. To get started on the subject I think it’s best if we cover some surprising facts first.
- Fact #1: A general organ donor can often save up to eight people and change the lives of more than fifty individuals.
- Fact #2: There is a need for a very diverse range of donors. Transplants have a higher success rate when the organ is matched between two members of the same ethnic group.
- Fact #3: 20-22 people die every day due to the shortage of available organ donors
- Fact #4: There are not many conditions that prevent a person from being a donor. You would be surprised at what won’t exclude someone. HIV, spreading cancer, or a severe infection typically make organ donation improbable.
- Fact #5: There’s no age limit to being a donor. So far, the oldest in the United States was ninety-three years old.
- Fact #6: There are currently more than 123,000 people in the United States waiting on an organ. Another person is added to the waiting list every 12 minutes.
- Fact #7: It’s illegal to pay someone for an organ.
If you want more info in general on organ donations and transplants, check out Transplants.org.
How to Become an Organ Donor
Becoming an organ donor requires going through the organ donation process. This also applies to Kidney donation. The process differs depending on what state you are in. If you live in the US you can find specific info about your state here. Generally you can register online to become an organ donor should you pass away.
If you want to donate something like your kidney while you are still alive, like in Ari Sytner’s book ‘Journey to Becoming an Organ Donor’, then it is a bit different. A living donation is simply when a living person donates an organ to somebody in need. This is usually a close family member or loved one, though many other forms of donations also occur.
Anonymous donations are becoming more common as well. The greatest benefit of organ donation, according to most who do it, is knowing that you’re saving a life. Often that life is a spouse, or family member or even a very grateful stranger.
Kidney Donor Requirements
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center Kidney donors should:
● Be between the ages of 18 and 70.
● Have a compatible blood type if not working in a paired kidney exchange.
● Be in good general health.
If you are interested in becoming a donor there are a number of questionnaires out there regarding your viability. Usually these are organ specific. Do a quick google search for kidney donation questionnaire and you should be met with plenty of options. The University of Maryland Medical Center Questionnaire is here.
You can also find info on the kidney donation risks at these same places. To summarize these risks for you (keep in mind there are no national statistics on the frequency of donor related issues, but there are generally accepted to be rare), some donors have dealt with issues like recurring pains, nerve damage, or intestinal obstruction. It will likely take a good amount of time for your body to fully recover from your surgery. You might have to miss work while you are waiting to be fully healed.
About Ari Sytner
The author of the ‘Journey to Becoming an Organ Donor’ and the inspiration behind this Geeker blog is, in addition to being an author, a Rabbi and “Social worker, therapist, inspirational speaker, Huffington Post contributor, blogger, CEO, organizational strategist, consultant”.
Ari Sytner says that the motivation for the book was not to convince people to become donors, but to think about kindness and caring regarding humanity and how you can improve the world with giving. The original Kickstarter for the book can be found here. It states that “the book takes readers on a journey before, during and after the surgery, and tackles the dozens of questions I asked at each stage”. The Kickstarter was completed back in late 2016.
For a quick explanation of how organ donation and transplantation works, watch this short but informative video.