Are you an organ donor? Nobody wants to think about the circumstances under which that would become an option, but upsetting as it is, it’s something that all of us should consider.
The United States has a serious shortage of organ donors. According to an article in The Atlantic, 21 people die each day in the United States for want of a donated organ, and in New York alone there are over 10,000 people on the transplant waiting list.
Organ donor registration varies by state, but the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network tells us that 45 percent of American adults were registered as of 2012.
The big question is, why are relatively few people registered?
“It’s a touchy question, something non-donors aren’t necessarily keen to answer,” write The Atlantic’s Tiffanie Wen. “But experts say there is a large disparity between the number of people who say that they support organ donation in theory and the number of people who actually register.”
What accounts for the disparity? In a nutshell, it comes down to a question of trust.
A study by the University of Geneva (Switzerland) “cites mistrust in the medical field and lack of understanding about brain death as major barriers to donation.” The study showed that many people would not donate the organs of a loved one even if he or she were declared brain dead.
Mistrust of the medical profession is also a factor. If you’ve ever stood watch at the bedside of a dying relativet, for example, you may think the hospital staff is not quite as attentive as they should or could be, and that would make it less likely that you would consent. And there are plenty of people out there who believe that if your doctor or a hospital knows you’re an organ donor, they’ll be less likely to do everything they can to save your life.
Those are huge hurdles to overcome.