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Essays by KT

Creating a More Abundant Supply of, Not a Market for, Organs and Such

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December 1, 2006
Argumentation/Persuasion Paper
Freshman English II (ENGL101)

An estimated 17 people will die today without a second chance at life (Porterfield).  Each of these seventeen people need a transplant and will die waiting.  Some of them are young, and some of them are old.  Some need a heart transplant, while others need a liver transplant.  There is hope though.  Their hope is that a match will be found so they can receive their much needed organ and live on.  Since “deceased donors provide the most transplanted organs” (Nathan), I believe becoming a potential donor should be easier and encouraged more by changing the policy for becoming a potential donor to one of opting out instead of opting in, and by rewarding those who choose to become potential donors.

Until recently, there wasn’t much value in a human cadaver because the only known reason for one was to help train physicians and surgeons (Emson).  Now it is known that, in most cases, various things from a person who just died can be transplanted into a living person to help them to continue to live.  About thirty years ago, if a person wanted to become a potential donor, they would have to notify the state (VanderKlok).  Then there was the point, not too long ago, when the check of a box would show that you’re a potential donor.  Now there’s an additional paper that is mailed to drivers for them to fill out and mail back; this ensures that the state has potential donors on file.  There’s been a lot of effort put forth to make it easier for one to become a potential donor.  It would be much easier if the policy was one of opting out instead of one of opting in.

Many people want to donate their organs after death; they just forget to consent or don’t to take the time or effort to consent.  In addition, persuading loved ones, during their time of grief, that organ donation is the best option, can be an emotional and trying experience for both the family and the doctors.  Surveys have shown that ninety-nine percent of Americans are aware of transplantation and over seventy-five percent say they would donate if asked, unfortunately, only forty-eight percent actually consent (Nathan).  Since so many people merely forget to, or don’t take the time to consent, I believe the policy for becoming a potential donor should be changed from one of opting in to one of opting out.  This could also eliminate some of the trauma involved with the decision-making required at death.

Only some organs can be donated while the donor is still alive; the others must be harvested from non-living donors.  When a donor is living, the organs they can donate are limited: one kidney, a lobe of a lung, and a portion of the liver, intestines, and pancreas (The Who).  A deceased donor can donate anything from the heart and lungs to skin and bones.  Since so much more can be donated from a deceased person, it would be very beneficial if potential donors were encouraged more.  When a person dies, that person has no use for their organs anyway, and, if another person can benefit from their usable organs, they should have that chance at continued life.

Some people are indifferent to whether or not they are a potential donor; therefore, they don’t take the time or effort to become one.  Changing the policy to one of opting out would create many more donors.  Instead of those who are indifferent not taking the time or effort to become a potential donor, they would then, not take the time or effort to opt out of becoming one, thus creating a larger amount of donors and potentially saving many more lives.

  Many people, if offered a reward, would quickly take the time and effort to become a potential donor.  Some options of rewards have been tried, and they’ve been found to be quite successful.  One such instance has occurred in Georgia when the state offered a nine dollar discount on driver’s license fees for those who became potential organ donors (How to).  A variety of other rewards could be very successful.  Such rewards could include decreased medical costs or funeral costs for families of deceased donors.  Another reward would be for those who become potential donors when they’re healthy.  “If they later fell sick, [they would] get extra points in the system used to assign their position on the transplant waiting list,” although other necessary factors would still be included such as how long the person has been on the list and how well an available organ would match (How to).

There’s an immense need for transplants.  In 1990, twenty-two thousand Americans were on the waiting list for an organ transplant (How to).  Today, some ninety-four thousand people nationwide are waiting for a transplant (“Organ Donation”).  That’s a seventy-two thousand person increase in just sixteen years, and this number continues to rise.  If more organs were legally accessible, this number could finally begin to decrease.

There’s not a large supply of usable organs compared to the need for them.  From 1987 to 1991, there was a seventy-five percent increase in the amount of people on the United Network for Organ Sharing waiting list (Moustarah) and this number continues to increase.  Unfortunately, the supply of organs has remained almost completely unchanged since 1980 (Moustarah).

Last, but certainly not least, the most obvious reason behind the attempt to get more people to become potential donors is that it would save many lives.  “One donor can help more than 50 people” (Porterfield).  That’s a lot of lives that could potentially be saved if only there were more potential donors.

Opponents may think that offering compensation for donating organs is morally wrong because it causes the donor to donate for the wrong reason but, as John Stuart Mill said, “He who saves a fellow creature from drowning does what is morally right, whether his motive be duty or the hope of being paid for his trouble” (Pence).  Another argument has been that organ transplants cost too much money.  Transplants do cost money, but forcing a patient to do without a transplant costs the nation even more money.  For example, kidney transplants pay for themselves in two to three years, and one-half of all transplanted kidneys continue to function for at least eight years (How to).  On top of costing the nation money, forcing a patient to do without a transplant would cause that patient and their loved ones to suffer much longer than necessary.

            Opponents may say that if a potential donor needs an organ transplant, they’ll be able to pay their way to the top of the organ transplant list.  This is not true.  Although they certainly may have an advantage against those who aren’t potential donors, it most definitely will not be a financial advantage.  Instead, it will be a fair advantage and one that is open to anyone.  Opponents may also say that they want an open casket funeral for their loved one; therefore, they don’t want them to look like everything’s been taken out of them.  This is understandable but, after a routine autopsy and the removal of usable organs, “the body is reconstituted so that there is no outward sign, to ordinary observation such as that at an open coffin funeral or memorial service,” that any examination has been performed or any organs have been removed (Emson).

This year, about eight thousand Americans will die waiting for a transplant (How to).  In the past years, the number of Americans on the waiting list for an organ transplant has drastically increased.  In sixteen years, that number has jumped from twenty-two thousand (How to) to ninety-four thousand people (“Organ Donation”).  This pattern of increasing need will continue into the future unless the hearts and minds of American citizens and the procedure for becoming a potential organ donor changes.  Hearts and minds may take a while to transform; however, the procedure is something that can be changed now.  Although the true reward should be the potential life-saving donations of something useless to you after death, other rewards would definitely help to get more people to become potential donors.

 

Works Cited

Emson, H.E. “Consent for Cadaver Organ Donation is Unnecessary.” Medical Ethics 2005. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center.  Thompson/Gale.  Montcalm Community College Library.  06 Dec. 2006 <http://galenet.galegroup.com>.

“How to Encourage Organ Donors.” Editorial. Washington Post 17 Oct. 2006. The Ann Arbor News. 21 Oct. 2006 <http://www.mlive.com>.

Moustarah, Fady. “The United States Should Adopt a Policy of Presumed Consent Toward Organ Donation.” Organ Transplants 2003. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center.  Thompson/Gale.  Montcalm Community College Library.  06 Dec. 2006 <http://galenet.galegroup.com>.

Nathan, Howard M., Suzanne L. Conrad, Philip J. Held, Keith P. McCullough, Richard E. Pietroski, Laura A. Siminoff, and Akinlolu O. Ojo. “Organ Donation in the United States.” Blackwell Synergy. 06 Dec. 2006 <http://www.blackwell-synergy.com>.

“Organ Donation.” Wikipedia. 05 Dec. 2006. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 06 Dec. 2006 <http://en.wikipedia.org>.

Pence, Gregory E. “Compensating People for Organ Donation Could Alleviate the Organ Shortage.” Organ Transplants 2003. Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center.  Thompson/Gale.  Montcalm Community College Library.  06 Dec. 2006 <http://galenet.galegroup.com>.

Porterfield, Mannix. “Organ Donor Group Paying for First 250 License Plates.” The Register-Herald. 21 Nov. 2006. 04 Dec. 2006 <http://www.somerset-kentucky.com>.

“The who, what, how and wow of organ donations.” USA Today 25 Oct. 2006: A13. ProQuest. ProQuest Company. Montcalm Community College Library. 04 Dec. 2006 <http://proquest.umi.com>.

VanderKlok, Denise D. Personal Interview. 11 Dec. 2006.

 

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