Thursday, January 12, 2012

I'm an organ donor

Everyone should be an organ donor.  You won't need organs when you're dead!  And among the living, there's always a short supply of organ transplants.

I don't really know anything about organ donation that you can't learn on the internets.  But I'm enthusiastic about it.

For some reason, organ donation isn't an issue that skeptics talk about much, but it well could be.  Many people don't become organ donors because they believe in myths that aren't true.  My favorite one, because I used to think it was plausible myself, is the idea that doctors won't try as hard to prevent your death if they know you're an organ donor.  But now I realize that it doesn't pass the smell test.  Even if we thought doctors were completely irrational, it's not even the same set of doctors who check organ donor status.

Oh, and just to make things interesting, there's a strange relationship between religion and organ donation.  It turns out that most major religions* allow, or even encourage, organ donation.  And there are lots and lots of educational materials out there which say so.  Because people need to be informed about their own religious beliefs, or they might get them all wrong!

*The only notable exception is Shintoism.

But seriously, according to a study, 8% of non-donors in the US cite religion as their reason for not being organ donors.*  But it's not so straightforward as religiosity discouraging organ donation, because we're ignoring people who become donors because of their religious views.  Another study** found that stronger religious views were correlated with more positive attitudes towards organ donation.  I also found a paper which discussed multiple factors which may affect people's decisions, including a sense of spiritual connection with recipients, and a sense of spiritual concern for body integrity.  The paper finds that the former is correlated with organ donation among women, and the latter is anticorrelated with organ donation among men.

*Most people cite at least one of the myths about organ donation.
**Unfortunately, I don't have access this this paper, so I can't say much about it.  But it's based on 190 undergraduates at a small midwestern University.

So that's about all the statistics I found.  Draw your own conclusions from them.

1 comment:

Larry Hamelin said...

There is one possible reason one might not want to be an organ donor: as medical insurance becomes worse and more people have substandard insurance or none at all, a person who would not be a candidate recipient for financial reasons would, I think, justifiably object to being a donor.

Of course, Medicaid/Medicare does pay for organ transplants (my mother received a lung transplant on Medicaid), but that may not last long. Additionally, if one's private insurance doesn't cover transplants, it is necessary to become both destitute and totally disabled to qualify for Medicaid.