I’ve been doing a little research into organ donation lately. I was inspired because I couldn’t imagine why someone wouldn’t want to be an organ donor. Our country has an Opt-in organ donation program meaning that in order to be a donor you have to actively sign up to do so. Some countries are Opt-out countries meaning unless you actively unregister yourself then, you are a donor. I’ve learned that in Opt-out countries fewer people die from lack of organs. This makes me really wish I lived in an Opt-out country. Opt-in countries have more living donations, meaning that a person who is still alive may donate a kidney to save another. Unfortunately, living donation doesn’t work when we are talking about hearts. When you get down to it, in Opt-in countries, more people die from lack of available organs. This made me look into why people weren’t organ donors.There are a few reasons people site.  First, is religion.

From what I can find, Christianity and Hindu religions are all for it. Jehovah’s Witness have recently amended their view of donation from, “Those who submit to such operations are thus living off the flesh of another human. That is cannibalistic.” (Oliver et. al) in the 1960s to agreeing to organ donation as long as no blood is transfused in the 1980s. Islam belief indicated that harming the body in life or death is forbidden however; “altruism is also an important principle of Islam, and saving a life is placed very highly in the Qur’an—‘Whosoever saves the life of one person it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind’ (chapter 5:32).” (Oliver et. al)  Buddhism seems to have some conflict between the ‘spiritual consciousness’ vs. “generosity (dāna) or selfless giving” both of which are major principles in the religion. If you practice one of these religions, and it has an effect on your decision to donate, I’d love for you to share with me so I can learn more.

The second reason I’ve found that people don’t donate is the way neurological exams are performed to determine whether or not a person is “brain dead”. Some are in belief that the higher neurological function is not tested well enough to determine if an organ donor will feel pain when organs are harvested. I’ve learned that while the body may have responses during the surgery the patient still feels nothing.

Another reason is people are skeptical that doctors will try their best to save their lives. It is my belief that when you go to the hospital, whether routine or emergency, doctors are thinking of YOU as the patient. I don’t believe that they are thinking of you as parts that could potentially be used for someone else.

Some people believe famous and rich people get organs first.  Simply not true. When you are listed for a heart transplant you fall into one of four categories.

Category 2: You’re otherwise healthy. You can do your day to day with little or no help. You are home.

Category 1b: You have some sort of external help. You may have an IV that is providing meds to you or an LVAD or RVAD helping pump your heart. You can be home or hospitalized.

Category 1a: You are generally in the hospital and need an organ in the very near future or you will die.

Category 7: You are in need of an organ but temporarily off the list.  This may happen if you have a fever and are sick. If you are traveling outside of the area etc.

While other organs may be listed with different numbers and levels the process is similar. Money, fame etc. doesn’t get you anywhere in the transplant world.

Finally, the scariest reason of all, “I’d happily be a donor I’ve just never signed up.” This reason right here is why I believe our country should adopt an Opt-out program. If you don’t want to donate because of religious, personal or whatever reason you may have, that is your choice but I believe you should make the effort to make your wishes known.

If you are willing to be a donor please register and tell your loved ones.  Make your wishes known! One organ donor can SAVE the lives of eight people and HELP up to 50 more with tissues and other donations.


Courage, dear heart. ~C.S.Lewis

Oliver, Michael, Alexander Woywodt, Aimun Ahmed, and Imran Saif. “Organ Donation, Transplantation and Religion.” Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation. Oxford Journals, 18 Sept. 2010. Web. 16 Aug. 2015. <http%3A%2F%2Fndt.oxfordjournals.org%2Fcontent%2Fearly%2F2010%2F10%2F20%2Fndt.gfq628.full>.

One thought on “Opt-in vs Opt-out: Where do you lie?

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