Save lives three ways
I am sure that a lot of you are blood donors, a life-saving and worthwhile way to help your fellow man. You go every few months and have some of your blood taken, it is an amount that your body can quickly replace. You will get a drink and a biscuit (purely to put blood sugars up a bit if needed) and your blood is taken away and 'cleaned' where any sign of a problem with infection or disease before being stored as one of two products: plasma and full blood. When a patient loses a lot of blood during a treatment or accident they are given donated blood to save their lives. It may sound glib but this is more of a gift than you realise, it is way more far-reaching, and as a previous recipient of blood transfusions, I can tell you that this gift is greatly appreciated.
Some of you may have registered as organ donors. This is when you consent that, after your death, your organs may be removed and given to people in order to save their lives. I know some people worry about there being some vague chance that the doctors would allow one person to die in order to save another but to a doctor one patient is as important as another and this would never happen.
From the other side, I know that if my health improves sufficiently, I shall be placed on the transport list for a new liver. Other health problems have made it so I am currently not strong enough for the operation. If I can't get strong enough I might be lucky and have five years but with a transplant that would improve to 30. This is just an example, but it gives an indication of the difference a donation can mean. There are people on the list who have young children, and in this way donors are helping save more than just one life and give children back their parents. I know some people who have already received their transplant and every one of them is inspiring. Nobody takes the gift for granted and most have taken up some serious charity work as a way of beginning to pay back a tiny part of what they have received. It is possible for the donor's family to have contact with the recipients if both parties agree which gives a final confirmation that your loved one did not pass in vain.
Are you aware of the Tissue Donor Programme?
As with organ donation vital life-saving treatment can be carried out when you have passed. They can use skin for burns victims, bones for cancer patients and eyes for the blind or nearly blind. This particular service does not receive sufficient advertising and yet it can be equally as life saving as either of the two donations above. If a patient has burns over a large area of their body, there will be no skin to cover the wound in order to repair and replace the damage. Donor skin can be placed across the area and this can save the life.
All donor methods can help patients of all ages and all are desperate for more donors. The first involves you making an appointment, or in some cases just turn up, to a clinic or mobile clinic to make your donation.
The second two require you to be on donor registers where currently you are expected to go and register yourself, unfortunately we do not look likely to adopt an opt-out system which would save many more lives.
If you are interested in becoming an Organ donor and/or Tissue donor please contact the Organ Donor Register in your country.
If you are registered as a donor please talk to your family and friends about this so that should the worst happen they know your wishes and it removes from them the burden of making such a decision in a timely fashion.
To donors everywhere I cannot explain the gift you are giving or how many lives you could save and drastically improve. I do know a lot about the organ donor process for personal reasons and would encourage all to register for both.
On behalf of recipients worldwide I thank you
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