DonateLife Week is from 31 July 2016 to 7 August 2016. The week is promoted by DonateLife, the Organ and Tissue Donation Authority.
Lions Australia is a signatory to DonateLife’s National Communication Charter and we adopted our own policy regarding Organ and Tissue Donation at our National Convention in Echuca. You can read it here, but put simply, we’d like all of our members to take some time at a club meeting, to discuss Organ and Tissue Donation amongst themselves and with friends and family.
I have followed some of the social media chatter about this issue, and as usual, much of the conversation involves trying to turn a very complex issue into narrow and absolute statements. Some suggest the donation of organs and tissues should be the default position; those choosing not to donate being required to specifically ‘opt out’. Some suggest that if one does not elect to donate their organs and tissues, they ought not to be able to receive donated organs if the need arises.
Caring, thinking human beings see the value of organ and tissue donation, particularly when we think of the many desperately ill individuals whose lives can be improved. That is why we state in our policy, that we “view organ donation as an expression of care for others, consistent with Lions humanitarian goals.”
The reason we need to discuss our loved ones wishes is that we need to know their views and beliefs beforehand. It is easy to believe you would honour your loved ones wishes over a dinner discussion, but when they are lying in a hospital bed the decision can be impossibly hard. When you have spent days or weeks caring for your loved ones as they pass away, it is just not that easy.
The request to consent to organ donation comes at the worst time possible. Carers are grieving, they probably haven’t slept for many days and they are dealing with one of the most significant, life changing events.
The discussion about donation starts when you still have hope for your loved ones recovery and continues through the time that hope fails, and you plan to say goodbye. More importantly, when you have finally made the decision to say goodbye, your consent to organ donation means you have to wait. Wait for the various tests to process and wait for the recipients of your loved ones organs and tissues to be mobilised, because successful donation is all about timing.
That is why, for me, the last thing one should do is judge others about their decision.
Lions Australia asks its members to talk about their views and thoughts on Organ and Tissue donation, to learn about the process and to share their thoughts with friends and families. There is great support from DonateLife with information and resources and a wonderful caring team that can help us all to find out more.
I was in this position not so long ago and the decision-making process is desperately difficult. I didn’t know my son’s views about Organ and Tissue donation; it’s not something you discuss with the young. I was lucky to hear from one of my son’s dearest friends who volunteered how he ‘chipped’ her for not electing Organ Donation on her driver’s licence. That, of course, made the difference as we felt duty-bound to honour our young man’s wishes.
It cannot diminish the loss, but our family can feel some empathy with those fortunate individuals who have the hope of a long, happy life with borrowed lungs and can forgo dialysis with shared kidneys.
For more information.