Choosing to Donate Life: WHY MORE PEOPLE ARE NOT REGISTERED AS ORGAN DONORS AND HOW TO ENCOURAGE DONATION IN THE UNITED STATES
Posted by Kaitlin Garofano '13
Every day, the lives of 79 people are saved from receiving an organ transplant. Yet, 18 people will die because there is a lack of available organs. One donor can save up to 8 lives, and improve many others through organ and tissue donation. What is it that causes a person or a person’s next-of-kin to choose to donate his or her organs?
Every day, organ transplant surgery saves many lives, yet patients still die because there is not a large enough supply of organs to meet the demand. I use the term ‘supply’ loosely, as it makes it sound as though these organs can come from anywhere, when, in reality, they have to be altruistically donated with permission from the family of a person who has recently been declared dead. A literature review of anthropological books and articles on the subject, supplemented by psychological and biomedical literature, illuminates reasons people choose to donate or not donate their organs after death, including religious, gift-giving, and cultural beliefs. I consider these examples when looking at methods currently being used or suggested for increasing organ donation rates to determine that organizations that work to increase donation need to focus more on the anthropological issues involved in the process.
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