Bob Aronson

Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

Post Transplant Depression — It’s Real and it’s Treatable

In Post Transplant Depression on January 29, 2012 at 6:53 AM

Early in July of 1995 I collapsed in a parking garage, got up, dragged myself to the car and drove to an emergency room.  After a Battery of tests I was told I had dilated cardiomyopathy and would someday need a heart transplant.  In simple terms cardiomyopathy is a weakening of the heart muscle that causes it to pump out less blood.   The less it pumps out, the more it retains and the more it retains the bigger it gets.   As your pumping capacity goes down the heart is forced to store more blood so it grows even more.  Finally, when the pumping function is almost negligible and the heart can’t grow any more you die.  It is called end-stage cardiomyopathy and it took me 12 years to get there, 12 years of continuous declining health, 12 years of knowing I was dying, 12 years of worrying about it. And…I was 12 years older, 68, and that doesn’t help when you need a heart transplant. 

Does that sound depressing?  Well it was but it was nowhere near as depressing as what I suffered after the transplant. “So,” you say, “Why would you be depressed after a transplant, you just got a new lease on life you should be happy.”  And if you said that, you’d be right, we should be happy but a very large number of transplant patients aren’t.  Some even become suicidal. It wasn’t until four years after my transplant that I was finally free of depression. 

Before we discuss why transplant patients get depressed, let’s talk a about what depression is, how to identify it and how can affect your life.  Clinical depression can affect every part of your life…your ability to sleep, eat, work, and get along with others can be severely affected.  Depression can ruin self-esteem and turn simple tasks like getting dressed and taking a shower into major struggles.  People who suffer from depression can lose interest in things that used to excite them and put a dark and gloomy cloud over everyday life.  It cannot be willed away and you can’t ignore it.  There’s a lot that can be done to treat depression but the first step is to admit that you have a problem and that is not always easy.  Depression like other diseases has symptoms which include:

  • Decreased energy, fatigue
  • Loss of interest in things that were once enjoyed, including sex
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much, not wanting to get up
  • Loss of appetite, or overeating
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Pessimistic about most things
  • Feeling helpless and worthless
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts

If you have any of these symptoms you should get immediate medical attention but if you are still not sure, take this on-line test as a kind of second opinion.  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression/MH00103_D

Back to transplant patients and depression.  I can only speak for myself but I have spoken with many transplant patients who have shared in my experiences.  When I awoke after transplant surgery and the anesthesia wore off I felt a euphoria that defies description.  Maybe it was realizing that I had survived the surgery or maybe it was the pain killers and residual effects of the anesthesia but I had this feeling of complete and total relief.  If one can really achieve serenity I had at that moment.  I have not experienced anything like it since.  It didn’t last very long. 

Anyone who knew me prior to my surgery will tell you that I have always been very outgoing, friendly, upbeat, optimistic and full of energy.  That was my natural state but heart transplant surgery and the events surrounding it changed all that.  After 9 days in the hospital I was released to go home but I was very weak, had little or no energy, and felt like I was no longer of any use to anyone.  I had energy, no appetite, no sense of humor, no personality … nothing.  All I wanted to do was sit in my recliner in a dark corner of our family room and watch TV.  Well, watch is the wrong word, the TV was on and I was aware of it but I couldn’t concentrate on anything long enough to get interested in it.  That recliner became my home off and on for almost two years. 

Each day as my physical health improved I went through the motions of living but without enthusiasm and always with a feeling of impending doom.  I attributed some of my mood to being forced to retire from a profession I loved which meant I was no longer able to support us.  For the first time since I was ten years old I didn’t have a job and felt too old and useless to get one.  I did everything my doctors advised; physical therapy, watched my diet, tried to get exercise, tried to live a normal life but deep down I just didn’t give a damn.  I wasn’t suicidal I was just a kind of zombie.

My wife, Robin, was running two of her own businesses at the time and made tremendous sacrifices to help me recover including trying to involve me in her business by giving me simple and easy jobs to do but I wasn’t interested.  I owed her my interest and should have helped her because I was capable of doing what she wanted but I preferred feeling sorry for myself while sitting in my dark corner with the flickering images of an unwatched TV set changing the room’s shadows.

While I was being treated for depression, it seemed as though none of the medications really worked very well.  Some would give me a lift for a few weeks but almost always would fail and I’d be back in my recliner.  I finally got to the point where I believed I was as good as I was going to get.  Enter a new therapist.

 At my clinic a change in staff resulted in my being assigned a different therapist.  At the time I thought nothing of it because I didn’t think there was any hope of ever really feeling good.  Wrong!  She tried a couple of new medications and then all of a sudden things changed.  I felt like a new man, I was my old self…better than my old self, I felt reborn and began living again, doing all the things I used to enjoy but enjoying them even more.  It took a little over four years after my transplant to begin living again but it was worth the wait.  Incidentally, after trying several drugs and combinations of drugs the one that finally worked was an old one…Remeron.

Post-transplant depression, I understand, can be caused by many factors known and unknown.  Two of the most obvious factors are 1) survivors guilt (someone had to die before I could get a transplant), 2) I’m undeserving or, “Why me?” (There are so many younger, sicker people who should have gotten my organ)

Whatever the reason for the depression the fact is that help is available it just may not be immediate.  I now know that you cannot give up, you must fight every inch of the way until you get relief.  It is not normal to feel down, useless, unimportant and insignificant every waking moment of every day.  It just isn’t normal so don’t accept it.  Find help.  I’m really enjoying life again.  You can, too.

Helpful links

Supporting a family member or friend http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression/MH00016

Post transplant depression http://surgery.about.com/od/ingandsurgery/a/TransplantCope.htm

All about Depression http://www.allaboutdepression.com/gen_01.html

Consider what I’ve written, discuss it with friends, join discussions on Facebook’s Organ Transplant Initiative and comment in the space provided here.  When you have decided what you think is the best solution to the organ shortage contact your elected representative or U.S. Senator and let them know your feelings.  Change has to begin somewhere, why not with you?

Bob Aronson of Bob’s Newheart is a 2007 heart transplant recipient, the founder of Facebook’s nearly 3,000 member Organ Transplant Initiative and the author of most of these donation/transplantation blogs.

You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at bob@baronson.org. And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love.

Please view our new music video “Dawn Anita The Gift of Life” on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYFFJoHJwHs.  This video is free to anyone who wants to use it and no permission is needed. 

If you want to spread the word personally about organ donation, we have another PowerPoint slide show for your use free and without permission. Just go to http://www.organti.org and click on “Life Pass It On” on the left side of the screen and then just follow the directions. This is NOT a stand-alone show; it needs a presenter but is professionally produced and factually sound. If you decide to use the show I will send you a free copy of my e-book, “How to Get a Standing “O” that will help you with presentation skills. Just write to bob@baronson.org and usually you will get a copy the same day.

Also…there is more information on this blog site about other donation/transplantation issues. Additionally we would love to have you join our Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative The more members we get the greater our clout with decision makers.

En Espanol

Puede comentar en el espacio proporcionado o por correo electrónico sus pensamientos a mí en bob@baronson.org. Y – por favor, difundir la palabra acerca de la necesidad inmediata de más donantes de órganos. No hay nada que puedas hacer lo que es de mayor importancia. Si usted convence a una persona de ser donante de órganos y tejidos puede salvar o afectar positivamente a más de 60 vidas. Algunas de esas vidas pueden ser personas que conoces y amas.

Por favor, consulte nuestro nuevo video musical “Dawn Anita The Gift of Life” en https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYFFJoHJwHs YouTube. Este video es libre para cualquier persona que quiera usarlo y no se necesita permiso.

Si quieres correr la voz acerca de la donación de órganos personalmente, tenemos otra presentación de PowerPoint para su uso libre y sin permiso. Sólo tienes que ir a http://www.organti.org y haga clic en “Life Pass It On” en el lado izquierdo de la pantalla y luego sólo tienes que seguir las instrucciones. Esto no es un espectáculo independiente, sino que necesita un presentador pero es profesionalmente producida y sonido hechos. Si usted decide usar el programa le enviaré una copia gratuita de mi libro electrónico, “Cómo obtener un pie” O “que le ayudará con habilidades de presentación. Sólo tiene que escribir a bob@baronson.org y por lo general usted recibirá una copia del mismo día.

Además … hay más información sobre este sitio de blogs sobre otros donación / trasplante temas. Además nos encantaría que te unas a nuestro grupo de Facebook, la Iniciativa de Trasplante de Órganos Cuantos más miembros que obtenemos mayor será nuestra influencia con los tomadores de decisiones.

Not Enough Transplantable Organs, Thousands Die…Options for Change

In Ending the Organ Shortage -- Solutions on January 19, 2012 at 2:45 AM

There will come a time when organ/tissue/blood donors are no longer needed.  Advancements in mechanical devices, therapeutic cloning (duplication of organs not people) and regenerative methods will negate the need for human donation.  But, that’s not going to happen any time soon and until it does we are going to have a shortage that results in thousands of unnecessary deaths.

Twenty eight years ago, The National Organ Transplant Act (NOTA) was approved.  Sponsored by Democrat Representative Al Gore and Republican Senator Orin Hatch the act outlawed the sale of human organs and provided for the establishment of a volunteer (Altruistic) system of organ donation in the United States. NOTA  also authorized the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to make grants for the planning and establishment of Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs); and established the formation of the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN). 

That was 28 years ago.  Since then thousands of lives have been saved by organ transplants but the number of available organs has always, from the very beginning, lagged behind the number of people who need them.

As of right now there are 112,640 waiting list candidates but so far this year there have been only 23,745 transplants done and only 11,711 donors (data from UNOS, the United Network for Organ Sharing www.unos.org ). The numbers are really all the evidence we need to show that the altruistic system is not working.  Each year about 6,000 people die while waiting for a transplant.  Thousands of other Americans never even get on the list because of a lack of access to specialized care or because they can’t afford a transplant. 

While many find this to be an intolerable situation neither DHHS nor UNOS seem interested in making any change to the system.  From time to time they will assemble “Ethics” panels to study ways to augment or change it but the answer is always the same, “Unethical.” One can easily ask, “What is ethical about letting all these people die?  How can you possibly look at these numbers and say, “Presumed consent and/or some kind of compensation system for donors, is unethical?”  Surely something can be designed that will provide the needed number of organs and still be an ethical practice.

I recognize that the highly skilled, educated professionals who make these “Ethical” decisions are faced with a double edged sword 1) changing the system could produce negative publicity and affect their reputations and perhaps some funding and 2) the ethics of allowing people to die.  Given those conditions it still seems that allowing people to die is more unethical than making some well-considered changes that would harm no one and benefit many. And…the situation is only going to get worse because modern technology is allowing people to live longer which is adding to the list of people waiting for transplants.

Twenty eight years of letting people die.  About 168,000 people are gone because the Ivory tower thinkers refuse to or are afraid to make a change.  Had changes been made in the past many of the 168,000 casualties would be alive today and who knows what contributions they might have made to our society.   

As I noted in the first paragraph, in the long term we probably won’t need to have a donor system but it will be many years before any of those means become commonly practical.  So we’re stuck with the old question, “What do we do to narrow or eliminate the gap between available organs and those who need them?”

My research indicates that while there are not a plentitude of options to consider there are some and they include:

 

  1. 1.    Mandatory donation (anyone who dies is automatically a donor, no exceptions)
  2. 2.    The LifeSharers approach, (you can only receive an organ if you are a donor)
  3. 3.    Presumed consent (You are automatically a donor unless you opt out)
  4. 4.    Some sort of compensation plan for donors and/or their families.
  5. 5.    A combination of presumed consent and a payment system

 Let us tackle mandatory donation first.  On its surface it sounds harsh and like a product out of an HG wells book.  It is harsh and probably unacceptable because of its dictatorial overtones.  Americans don’t seem to like anything that is mandatory whether it is good for them or not, so mandatory donation is unlikely to receive enthusiastic support.

 Aaron Spital, and James Stacey Taylor (Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York; and Department of Philosophy, College of New Jersey, Ewing, New Jersey) have written a persuasive paper on the subject of mandatory organ donation. http://tinyurl.com/6wavm4b. Their proposal is simple:  

 ”We propose that the requirement for consent for cadaveric organ recovery be eliminated and that whenever a person dies with transplantable organs, these be recovered routinely. Consent for such recovery should be neither required nor sought.”   

The two researchers go on to say,

“We believe that the major problem with our present cadaveric organ procurement system is its absolute requirement for consent. As such, the system’s success depends on altruism and voluntarism. Unfortunately, this approach has proved to be inefficient. Despite tremendous efforts to increase public commitment to posthumous organ donation, exemplified most recently by the US Department of Health and Human Services sponsored Organ Donation Breakthrough Collaborative many families who are asked for permission to recover organs from a recently deceased relative still say no. The result is a tragic syllogism: nonconsent leads to nonprocurement of potentially life-saving organs, and nonprocurement limits the number of people who could have been saved through transplantation; therefore, nonconsent results in loss of life.”  

While it is difficult to disagree from a purely logical standpoint, emotions run high on issues like this and it is unlikely to get approval from the American Public.

The second option listed is the approach where registered donors would be offered organs first, regardless of how ill other patients on the list might be.  In the U.S. there is one organization, LifeSharers, that has promoted that idea for several years and while they have nearly 15,000 members (http://lifesharers.org/) they have had virtually no impact. In order for the concept to work, they would have to sign up just about every single American…that’s not likely to happen and as far as we know, no LifeSharers member has yet been a donor to another LifeSharers member.  To be fair, however, the nation of Israel has adopted a form of the LifeSharers program but it’s still too early to make any assessments on its success or acceptance. 

Most people who object to the “Donors” first concept say it is because it deviates from the practice of offering organs (provided there is a match) to the sickest patient first.  Their program would offer organs to members first and then if there was no match, the organ could go to the sickest person.  Many people object because despite our great national communication system, there are still millions of people who don’t understand the donation/transplantation process, haven’t heard about it, didn’t know you could register to be a donor or, because of a multitude of myths, think they can’t be donors. Despite the honorable efforts by LifeSharers founder Dave Undis, the concept is not being seriously considered by the U.S. transplant community.  Additionally LifeSharers growth has been slow indicating limited acceptance by the public.  You can learn more about LifeSharers at http://www.lifesharers.org/

The third option is presumed consent and if any option is ever approved in the United States or even some of the states, this will likely be the one. Currently under our altruistic program people “opt in” by signing a donor card and having “Donor’ placed on their driver’s license or other official state ID card. Presumed consent is the opposite.  It assumes that everybody wants to be a donor and so you would “Opt out” if you don’t want to be a donor and likely would carry a card that says “Not a donor.”  You can learn more about presumed consent at http://tinyurl.com/7mcjoez.

In countries where presumed consent is in effect, (Austria, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Luxembourg, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, Latvia, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Poland, Greece, and Singapore) the opt out rate has been around 2% which means that 98% of the eligible population would be organ donors as opposed to under 50% in the United States where we have the opt In program. That’s a big difference.  The great leveler, however, may be that the countries with opt out as their system still ask family members, at the time of the donors death, for their approval. If they refuse the organ is not recovered. 

The most politically sensitive of all the issues is the outright sale of organs.   At this point I know of no serious effort in the U.S. that would change our laws to allow a person to sell his/her organs on the open market.  It is not realistic to think that any U.S. regulatory or government agency would even consider the idea.  Strangely, In Iran of all places, it is legal to sell organs and a healthy kidney retails for about $6,000.

Iran legalized living non-related donation (LNRD) of kidneys in 1988.  The Iranian government regulates and funds the donation/transplantation process and compensates donors for their organs. A third-party group arranges contact between donors and recipients (much like U.S. Organ Procurement Organizations (OPOs). In addition to payment from the government, donors receive free health insurance.  The transplant recipient benefits from highly subsidized immunosuppression support. Iranian law also provides for charitable organizations to pay the cost of transplants for people who can’t afford them.  Here’s an interesting twist, though.  It is illegal for the medical teams or any ‘middleman’ like our OPOs to receive payment.  Within a year of being implemented the number of transplants in Iran almost doubled.

 They system seems to be working in Iran and it certainly could work here…it isn’t as though we aren’t selling things similar to organs.  Currently in the United States it is legal to sell yourself to become a surrogate mother and everyday people are paid for sperm, eggs and hair so why not organs.  The Iran concept is certainly an option but polls continually indicate it is not a very popular one.

 There are some variations on the “Payment” theme that might be attractive to the American people.   We could consider a system that “compensates” rather than pays donors or their families.  For example, a living kidney donor does not have to pay for the surgery to remove the donated kidney nor does that person have to pay for any of the medical care surrounding the operation those costs are absorbed by the recipients insurance coverage.  The donor’s, though, often accrue other expenses like travel to the city in which the recipient lives, lodging, food and time away from work, which could be significant especially if there are any surgical complications.  A very good case could be made for compensation for these expenses.

There are other considerations as well. Dr. Sally Satel a Psychiatrist and a kidney transplant recipient who is also a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute has written and spoken extensively on the subject of compensation, “The solution to this lethal paternalism, as I and others have argued, is not to create a direct exchange of cash for kidneys, but for Congress to let donors accept a carefully devised and regulated government benefit — perhaps a tax credit, a contribution to a retirement plan or early access to Medicare.” 

It would not be a huge stretch to extend Dr. Satel’s ideas to families of deceased donors while also covering funeral expenses even providing some help with college tuition for their children, subsidized prescriptions or even subsidized health care insurance. You can read more on Dr. Satel’s thoughts by going to http://tinyurl.com/yabluu3 .

The final option that could be considered is a combination of presumed consent and a form of compensation that follows the lines described by Dr.Satel. 

The point of this blog is to just get people thinking.  The present system isn’t doing the job and never will despite heroic efforts at increasing organ donation, there just aren’t enough donors.  That we must change if we are to stop the dying, is a given.  Determining what that change should be is what is so incredibly difficult. 

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Consider what I’ve written, discuss it with friends, join discussions on Facebook’s Organ Transplant Initiative and comment in the space provided here.  When you have decided what you think is the best solution, you should contact your elected representative or U.S. Senator and let them know your feelings.  Change has to begin somewhere, why not with you?

You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at bob@baronson.org. And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or  positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love.

Please view our two brand new video “Thank You From the Bottom of my Donor’s heart” on http://www.organti.org This video was produced to promote organ donation so it is free and no permission is needed for its use.

Also…there  is more information on this blog site about other donation/transplantation issues.  Additionally we would love to have you join our Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative The more members we get the greater  our clout with decision makers.

Help Your Caregiver — Get Your Own Glass of Water

In Caregivers on January 15, 2012 at 4:57 AM

When you are very ill or recovering from a serious illness or surgery our caregivers (spouses, partners, friends, relatives) have a most difficult task.  Being a caregiver can be physically and emotionally draining and strange as it may seem the patient may sometimes have to offer care to the caregiver.  Care in the form of consideration and gratitude.  Remember the expression, “When mamma’s happy, everybody’s happy?”  Same goes for caregivers.

As a heart transplant patient with a wife who would do anything for me and did, I can now reflect on my recovery period and easily see the number of mistakes I made as she tried so hard to meet my every need, and take care of the house while running two businesses.  To this day I have no idea how she did it and I will be forever grateful.  My ruminations on the subject led me to write the following advice to others who may be in the same situation now or who could be in the future.

Make it easy on your caregiver if you want to do what’s best for you.

  1. Do as much for yourself as you possibly can. If your physician says you can get up and walk around do it as often as possible. Get your own glass of water.
  2. Learn your meds. Know what they look like, what they do, how often you take them and when they must be refilled and do all of it yourself.  Plan ahead for refills and find a pharmacy that will deliver to you on short notice so no one has to go running after prescriptions at the last minute.  You can do it sitting and you don’t need a caregiver to do it for you.
  3. Know your condition.  When you talk with your doctor or coordinator take notes.  It is your job to know about your health you cannot and should not depend on someone else to “remember what the doctor said.”
  4. Make your own meals but be sure they are nutritious. You either just got a new organ or you are about to get one. Don’t cause further problems by eating and drinking the wrong things.
  5. Only ask your caregiver for things you absolutely can’t do for yourself. If you can’t drive, you may need a ride or the caregiver may have to run errands for you.  If you are on medication that causes some mental confusion or fatigue your caregiver should be involved such as in dealing with legal papers, insurance etc.  But you should take over these responsibilities as soon as you possibly can.
  6.  If you have children, especially young ones, you may not be able to get involved in strenuous activities. The Children need to know this and your caregiver may have to take on some of this responsibility…for awhile.
  7.  Before making any request of your caregiver ask yourself this question, “Am I taking advantage of my caregiver by asking — is this something I can do myself?”
  8. Show gratitude and consideration. Taking care of another person can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Tell that person how grateful you are and ask what you can do to make it easier on them.  Every once in a while, get a glass of water for the caregiver.

You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at bob@baronson.org. And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love.

Please view our video “Thank You From the Bottom of my Donor’s heart” on http://www.organti.org This video was produced to promote organ donation so it is free and no permission is needed for its use.

Also…there  is more information on this blog site about other donation/transplantation issues.  Additionally we would love to have you join our Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative The more members we get the greater  our clout with decision makers.  

Free, Professional Coaching if You’ll Give Talks On Organ Donation.

In Special FREE Offer on January 7, 2012 at 1:24 PM

If you are a member of Organ Transplant Initiative (OTI) on Facebook or if you become one at any time (it’s ok to belong to any number of other similar groups at the same time) we invite you to take advantage of this exclusive offer. It is a challenge to get people to work harder on increasing organ donation. Too many people are dying while waiting.

If you will arrange for a two speaking dates to an audience of your choice on the subject of organ/donation transplantation, I will provide you with a factual, hard hitting, convincing PowerPoint presentation (one you can edit to fit your own style) visuals included at no charge. I will also offer you professional advice on getting and keeping the attention of an audience, motivating them to do what you want them to do, how to use your voice properly, how to breathe, body language and so much more. but, the coaching offer only stands if you use our presentation (we will very carefully research each fact offered). As a stand-alone the coaching will apply to many other areas of your life and it’s up to you how you use it.

All you have to do is volunteer to make two presentations during 2012 about donation/transplantation to the audience of your choice; family, service club, dinner group, church group, as the featured speaker at a banquet or anywhere else. You will be responsible for seeking out and securing those speaking dates. I can’t promise that I can give you perfection, but in a few short minutes or hours I can help you become a more confident, powerful and convincing speaker. All you have to do is send me a personal email at bob@baronson.org and say, “I’ll do it” and we can work toward arranging the proper communication vehicle to help refine your skills. If you just want the presentation and no help from me…that’s fine too. You may use the presentation I write without permission as long as you give attribution to the Organ Transplant Initiative for having provided you with some assistance. You do not need to mention my name.

I know public speaking can scare the bejeebers out of people but for many there is good sound advice that can help you through that. One thing for sure the advice you get will help you in many ways that go well beyond talking about organ donation. The skills you learn will be applicable in job interviews, courtroom and/or regulatory agency testimony, media interviews, sales presentations, regular conversation, and even giving a talk to co-workers about any subject (sometimes it even works with teenagers and spouses).

I spent all of my working life in communications including owning a firm with clients around the globe many of them in the Fortune 50 of top corporations. I don’t know why the good lord gave me this modicum of talent but I think he’d like me to share it to help save some lives, hence this offer.

I am already working on developing a slide show and hope to finish it within a month or two. Once done I will share it with you and we can begin the process. I’m hoping that eventually this will turn into a sort of national OTI speakers bureau with resources in every state and a message that is powerful, consistent and heartfelt.

 

I hope many of you will find it in your hearts to commit to this. With under 50% of Americans signed up to be organ donors there is ample opportunity to make a difference. Please become part of it and I promise I will do everything I can to make you successful because if that happens, we are going to save a lot of lives.

You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at bob@baronson.org. And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or  positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love.

Please view our two brand new video “Thank You From the Bottom of my Donor’s heart” on http://www.organti.org This video was produced to promote organ donation so it is free and no permission is needed for its use.

Also…there  is more information on this blog site about other donation/transplantation issues.  Additionally we would love to have you join our Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative The more members we get the greater  our clout with decision makers.

Too Few Organ Donors — Inadvertent Terrorism

In drugs & tobacco abuse, Ending the Organ Shortage -- Solutions, Uncategorized on January 2, 2012 at 9:21 AM

Each day 19 people die because there are not enough transplantable human organs to fill the need.  The United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) which coordinates all transplants in America maintains a list of people who need life-saving transplants.  As of today, January 2, 2012 the numbers are:

Waiting list candidates                                 112,702

Transplants January – Sept. 2011              21,354

Donors January – Sept. 2011                       10,558

Right now, as you read this a patient, maybe a child, is near death.  She needs a heart but there won’t be one. As the electronic monitors beep and chirp, the family is devastated, inconsolable in the frustration over the lack of organ donors and the imminent death of their loved one.  The best medical care in the world is at their fingertips but they are helpless without an organ donor.  The patients vital signs are dropping more rapidly now, the Doctors aren’t holding out much hope.

Right now as you read this, another patient not too far away has already been declared brain dead as the result of an auto accident.  He is surrounded by a grieving family.  It is not known if the patient is or wanted to be an organ donor.  The family is considering a request to donate his organs but the decision must be made soon and they don’t know what to do, their loved one never told them of his wishes.  Through tears and indescribable grief they discuss, they argue and then decline.  Both patients die.

Each year Americans bury or cremate more than 20,000 transplantable organs – 20.000.  Surveys continually indicate that over 90 percent of Americans approve of organ donation but in one of the greatest mysteries ever, only 46 percent actually make the commitment to do so.  This inaction, this procrastination is causing people to die, families to grieve and patients who are awaiting transplants to live their lives in absolute terror.  People who are not organ donors are not evil, they are not bad, they just don’t understand that their lack of action causes terror among patients as great as that caused by the real terrorists of the world.

Most people who aren’t donors, “Just haven’t gotten around to it.”  After all, there’s no rush for them.  Organs are recovered after a person dies and most potential donors are in pretty good health.  The problem is that the patients who need the organs are not in good health.  Everyone who is on that UNOS list mentioned earlier, is dying.  Without a transplant they will die.  Period. End of story.

Well, let’s make the donation process really simple, so simple you can do it from home, your office, on your I-pad or Kindle in your doctor’s waiting room anywhere.  You don’t even have to get up.  Just go to www.donatelife.net and follow the instructions then tell your family what you have done.  It only takes minutes.  Then make very sure they clearly understand that you want to be an organ donor.  “That means when I die I want the medical people to take as much of my tissue and as many of my organs as they need to help save or enhance the lives of others.”  Those are my distinct wishes please respect them should the time come.

That’s the first step to saving lives by helping to increase the number of donors.  The second step, just in case you like this cause and want to do more, is to spread the word to convince others to do the same.  “So,” you say, “How do I do that, how do I spread the word?”  Here are ten easy tips, I’m sure that if you think real hard you might be able to come up with ten more.

  1. 150 words is about a minute’s speaking time.  Write out about 150 words on why organ donation is important to the donor…the donor and then post it everywhere you can think of on the internet.
  2. Call your local Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) and volunteer to speak on behalf of donation.
  3. Buy the green “Donate life” wristband at www.donatelife.net and wear it every day.  If someone admires it give it to them and ask them to wear it.  What’s a few bucks to save  some lives?
  4. Ask your pastor to give a sermon on organ donation…offer to help gather the information for him/her.
  5. Write a letter to the editor…actually send it to every editor you can think of.
  6. When some radio talk show host least expects it…call about the importance of organ donation
  7. Offer to speak to a local service club about donation/transplantation issues (Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions etc).
  8. Add a short note about organ donation to the signature of every email you send “Did you know that one organ/tissue donor can save or positively affect up to 60 lives?”
  9. Talk to a public school class about donation/transplantation
  10. Start a blog…it’s really easy.  Just Google “free blog sites” and go for it.

You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at bob@baronson.org. And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or  positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love.  Please view our video “Thank You From the Bottom of my Donor’s heart.” Just go to www.organti.org and click on the title.  This video was produced to py romote organ donation so it is free and no permission is needed for it’s use.  You’ll also find other useful information on this web site about other donation/transplantation issues.

We would love to have you join our Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative (OTI) The more members we get the greater our clout with decision makers and the more clout we have the more likely it  is that we’ll be able to increase not only organ donation but the many alternatives that science and technology people are working on.

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