It is heartbreaking to see children in dire health waiting desperately for organs. Recently little ten year old Sarah Murnaghan has been in the news. She suffers from cystic fibrosis and is in desperate need of a lung transplant. Her chances of getting an organ were limited because of the rules set down by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, or OPTN. There is a two tier system that limits children to receiving organs from other children and teens and adults get the first chance at adult organs. Her parents fought the rule in court. Now Sarah and another child desperately in need of a transplant, eleven year old Javier Acosta, are eligible for adult or child organs.
The whole heartbreaking process, a dilemma for the families, medical professionals and courts, could be avoided if more people would register to be organ donors.
There is a great article by JoNel Aleccia on NBC News.com that discusses the Murnaghan situation and the overall organ shortage problem. Excerpts from the article:
Only about 45 percent of adults in the U.S. — nearly 109 million people — are organ donors, a figure that donation and transplant experts say seems tragically low when the public’s attention is riveted on the lack of organs for a child such as Sarah.
The biggest barrier to registering is procrastination — tempered with a little denial, said Sharon Ross, a spokeswoman for the San Diego affiliate of Donate Life.
More than 118,000 people are waiting for organs, including nearly 76,000 who actively need them now, according to OPTN. About 18 people die every day awaiting transplants.
“People sometimes believe that organ allocation is the primary issue, when in reality, the crisis is the lack of supply of organs for transplant,” Fleming said.
Donation advocates say there’s one certain way to avoid what Sebelius described as the “incredibly agonizing” situation of having to ration organs: Get people to donate.
“We certainly believe that if everyone were a registered donor, it could double the number of transplants each year,” said Fleming, noting it would boost last year’s 28,000 transplants to more than 56,000.
They work hard to rebut common myths about organ donation designation, including this one: ER doctors won’t work as hard to revive potential donors in a crisis.
Minority groups including blacks, Hispanics and Asians are often reluctant to donate, primarily because of religious or cultural reservations, experts say. White people account for about two-thirds of all organ donations.
“The real message is this,” Fleming said. “If you feel discomfort or outrage for this young woman, the real response, the way to provide hope to people like Sarah is to become an organ donor.”
There are at least 3,000 Michiganders currently on a waiting list for an organ. Michigan has made big strides lately toward adding more names to the donor registry but we have far to go.