There was no dramatic reason in my decision to become an organ donor. It is simply in my opinion the right thing to do. For a long time it has been on my to do list (that blasted list that never seems to end or get done!). My life has never been touched by organ donation. I've never (to my knowledge) lost a relative to an illness that needed a lifesaving transplant.
I've always believed that we should do as much good as we can in this world. Our last possible gift we could ever give would be the gift of life to somebody else. Nobody deserves to die. You could save someone's mother or child. The breadwinner of a family or the next Nobel Peace Winner. But in reality it doesn't matter who the recipient is - what matters is that there is an organ for them to receive.
I've just received all my paperwork and stickers. Time to put everything in place, inform my loved ones and doctor of my decision and ensure that in the event of a fatal accident my final gift will be life giving.
But why raise this topic now?
Well is Christmas time and in South Africa that means a notoriously high death toll on our roads. Sadly despite yearly calls for safer driver and supposed tougher actions by the officials the number of people who lose their lives never really seems to drop. The stats according to news24.com for the last few years are as follows :
According to the transport department and RTMC, the preliminary road deaths for previous years were:
- December 2007: 1 142 people killed (the final figure was 1 535);
- December 2008: 937 people;
- December 2009: 1 050 people;
- December 2010: 1 358 people;
- December 2011: 1 232 people; and
- December 2012: 1 279 people.
The figures for all the years except 2010 were for the month of December. The 2010 figure included deaths up to and including 4 January.
The final death toll figures for the Decembers since 2007 had been higher than the preliminary figure.
These were NOT FINAL figures. Seriously people I don't know why you can't all drive like normal law-abiding citizens... this is not the fault of the government or traffic officials... it is the people behind the wheels. YOU!!! Slow down. Buckle up. Stay off your cellphone. Keep a safe distance.
I digress - this is not about fatalities on our roads.
While the loss of a loved one, at any time but particularly at this time of year, is horrific and there is a lot of emotions and grief to deal with if the decision has been taken by the victim earlier and all the correct documentation is in place then the burden would not be on the family to make the call on whether or not donate organs. They do need to give their consent but it is easier to give consent when you know what the wishes of your loved one are than when trying to make that decision on top of the trauma of a sudden loss.
I know for a lot of people the thought of removal of organs or tissues is a sensitive topic. There are religious issues as well. But your body is just the shell that houses your organs and keep you going while you are alive. Once you are dead your soul moves on. Whether buried or cremated what good are those organs wasted? I don't expect you to be in agreement. However please just think about it. Remember it could be your loved one in need of that organ one day...
I know death is not a topic people like to talk about but it is reality. Like they always say we are only guaranteed 2 things in this life, death and taxes.
If you want your life to count for something then why not have your death count for something to.