Do you turn your head at the sight of blood? Do discussions about hospital treatments and needles make you squirm? Do you quickly switch the channel when you happen upon an overly-graphic medical documentary on television?
And that makes writing about the following issue even more difficult.
It’s a topic I had never given much thought until the past couple of months. It’s a topic which stems from all of the recent publicity over the case of David Wetmore, a 1979 Herscher High School graduate who is in desperate need of a pancreas kidney transplant. David is now on the waiting list for that life-saving transplant, thanks to a successful $20,000 fundraising drive which has surpassed its goal. Area residents have been most generous in helping David through their financial contributions.
But David’s condition brings to light another type of donation—the organ donation.
Now first of all, none of us like to think about kicking the bucket. And even though it won’t matter to me at that time, I don’t relish the idea of having innards removed. Surely many of you share those sentiments.
If so, you might want to call a lady named Brenda Lloyd at the Illinois Organ Transplant Fund in Morris. She set me straight recently.
“I’m working on funds for 32 different people, and David concerns me the most,” said Brenda. Her job entails orchestrating efforts to raise money for people who need these expensive organ transplants. Once that up-front money is up front, she calls the hospital with the go-ahead. In other words, now that the $20,000 has been raised, David Wetmore’s name is now on the organ donor waiting list.
“But once we raise the $20,000, doesn’t meant David goes in tomorrow for surgery. It means he is put on a waiting list for the needed organs.”
Unfortunately, the waiting period may be extended because people like myself have never bothered looking into being an organ donor.
According to information received from the Regional Organ Bank of Illinois, Inc. (ROBI) there are 200,000 people nationwide on organ waiting lists. In Illinois and Northwest Indiana, the area served by ROBI, 1,000 folks, including David Wetmore, are on lists for transplantation. Their lives hinge on availability of donated organs and tissues.
What can we do? Get out your wallet, but this time you don’t need to fork over any cash. Instead, pull out your driver’s license. If yours is like mine, that jailbird photo will prompt you to flip the card over. On the back side is a legal document which needs your signature and the John Henry’s of two witnesses (you can write directly on the plastic with a ballpoint pen).
You should also check the appropriate area as to what sort of organs you wish donated.
ROBI also recommended that you carry a “Uniform Donor Card.” I have a supply of those in my office if you need one.
And you should also tell your next-of-kin of your intentions. According to a federal “required request” law, all hospitals must now offer the organ and tissue donation option to any relatives of potential donors. Tell them to say “yes” should that situation ever arise.
ROBI’s job is to procure and distribute organs and tissues in this region. Last year, the organization reported an organ donation increase of 14 percent. That’s the good news. The bad news is that waiting lists grew some 28 percent.
ROBI makes one other interesting point: Only through actual transplants can this surgical method be more finely honed. As more transplants—such as the one David Wetmore awaits—takes place, the procedures will advance beyond the experimental stages and qualify for possible insurance and public aid funding. Of course, patient survival rates get better and better as more and more transplants take place.
Indeed, this is not a pleasant topic to discuss. But please consider filling out the flip side of your driver’s license. Should the occasion arise, you will not be around to appreciate the good deed you just did. But someone else will appreciate it far more than you will ever imagine.
We all have it in us—literally—to do something good!