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The Reflection

Give a little heart: Organ donors can be teenagers too

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According to the American Transplant Foundation, more than 123,000 people in the United States are currently on the waiting list for a lifesaving organ transplant. It all starts when someone’s organs begin to fail, and they need a transplant to survive. Before someone can even be considered, a thorough evaluation is conducted at a transplant center to determine whether or not that person is a good candidate for a transplant.

“When I started watching Grey’s Anatomy, I realized that there are lots of people out there who need organs, and felt that it would be selfish of me not to be a donor,” said organ donor Madisen Riopel. “I don’t think teenagers need parental permissions; it’s their body, and it’s their choice what they want to do with it.”

Teens can decide for themselves whether or not they wish to be donors when they receive their driver’s licenses. Photo by Destiny Peterson

If so, he or she will need a new organ the patient will be put on the on the National Transplant waiting list. Once a patient is on the list, the wait for an organ begins. A national system matches people on the waiting list with donors.

The factors considered in matching donors and recipients include blood type, how sick, body size, distance from the donor, tissue type, and time on the list. What doesn’t get taken into account, however, is that organs are never matched based on race, gender, income, celebrity and social status. There’s no telling how long the wait will take. In fact some people don’t receive an organ in time because the waiting list is so long, and there aren’t enough organ donors available. That’s why an average of 18 people on the waiting list die each day.

Most organs donors or transplants come from deceased donors.

However, not everyone is fit to be a donor. Jillian Willoughby is not an organ donor for particular reasons.

“I don’t believe that teenagers need permissions to be an organ donor, but because my mother wished for me not to do so I decided not to be a donor,” said Willoughby. “If there was any chance that I would survive after an accident I would rather keep my organs intact.”

After a year of concerted efforts to boost UK organ donation rates, the number of people agreeing to donate their organs after death is growing. Infographic by Mark Fidelman

When a person comes to the hospital with a life-threatening trauma such as brain injury, the doctors work rigorously to save the person’s life, but sometimes nothing can be done. That’s why being a donor can turn a time of loss into a time for hope. Organs given from one person can save as many as 8 people through organ donation and can enhance the lives of 50 or more people through Al tissue donation.

Matches and transplants must happen quickly, so the hospital contacts an organ procurement organization (OPO), which manages the organ recovery process. The OPO checks the state organ registry, if the person is already registered as a donor they’ll inform the family, if not then they’ll ask the family to authorize donation.

A medical examination takes place and searches for matches on the national waiting list. If there is a match, the person waiting for the organ will receive a call and will then receive the transplant. A surgical team recovers the organs, then corneas and other tissues. Once the organs are ready, they will be sent to the transplant hospitals where the patients are waiting. After this process has been completed, the life-saving transplants take place.

It will take healthy living and medication to help the organ live well in its new home. You can become an organ donor with your license or you can sign up online.

Destiny Peterson

I am a senior at Gull Lake High School. This is my first and unfortunately last year in Newspaper. This will be my second year in the Performing Arts Company and will run Track and Field for a third year. I plan to go to college for a writing career and am really excited to get started.


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