Organ vs. Body Donation

On May 1, Facebook announced that they’ll be encouraging their users to declare their organ donor status, according to the New York Times. They say they want to use “peer pressure” to get people talking about organ donation and hopefully get more people to do it.  Personally, I don’t get it. Then again, I don’t understand why we have an “opt-in” system (wherein no one is a donor without prior consent) rather than an “opt-out” system (everyone is a donor unless they say otherwise beforehand). It’s sort of like recycling:  why would you throw something out when it can be used again?

I totally respect just about any reason to opt-out of being a donor. Medical condition? Duh. Religious reasons? Sure. Fear of being used to make a Frankenstein-like monster? Allowable. If you want to go through the steps to remove yourself from the list, go on ahead and do it. But, if all the healthy, unspoken for organs in the U.S. were donated, wouldn’t that save a whole lot more lives?

As it is now, the U.S. has one of the highest organ donation rates of all the nations with opt-in systems.  If that’s the case, then why use “peer pressure” (or public shaming) against people who most likely have a reason why they’re not donors.  Do you really want to make your aunt feel worse about having Hepatitis B?

I want my organs to be donated when I die, should they be fit for it.  If I become a vegetable, just let the doctors do what they want.  If they want my organs immediately, say goodbye and let them have them.  If they want to keep me on life support to keep the organs alive for some reason, do the same thing.  If they say my organs are rancid and should have failed long before now, go out and have a drink for me.  Mostly, if my organs can save someone else’s life, I want them donated.

However, I do not want my body donated to science.  As an undergraduate, I took a course in anatomy that included spending about 4 hours a week in the cadaver lab on campus.  At some point, the cadavers I was looking at stopped having a story.  This wasn’t Fred, a grandfather who loved taking his wife to the theater.  This was the cadaver with the exposed cranial nerves.  It was just a study tool.  The essential humanity–the spirit, if you will, was gone.  It seems illogical, especially given my thoughts on organ donation, but I don’t want that to happen to my body.  I know, I’ll be dead and it won’t matter, but I don’t ever want to be thought of as less than human.  I don’t want people to forget that I had hobbies and friends and a life before becoming the cadaver they’re looking at.

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