Saturday, November 6, 2010

Organ Donation for Cowards

Recently, I have been giving organ donation a lot of thought. While my wife has always been an advocate for the cause, I must admit that I had never given it much thought. I consider myself an educated person, but I must admit that much of my trepidation was based on irrational and unfounded fears. In the interest of full-disclosure I will detail them here:

1. I will be involved in an auto accident and the paramedics, perhaps as a result of having read this blog, will determine that my internal organs would best serve humanity elsewhere and let me lapse instead of performing CPR. While this scenario frightens me, I cannot argue with the logic.

2. That once all of my factory parts are gone, I will appear too hideous to for an open casket funeral and mourners will instead be subjected to a framed 8x10 of my high-school senior picture. However, this will insure adequate weeping from those in attendance.

3. I make it to the hospital intact, but a software glitch with the EEG machine gives the appearance that I have “checked out” when in fact I am simply in a coma. Seeing a lack of activity, the medical team initiates “Operation Innards” before I am able to recover consciousness thereby robbing humanity of my witty observations.

4. My organs will be given to another man who, driven by gratitude, will begin a tireless quest to discover the origin of his new parts. Eventually tracking down my still-grieving widow, he finds himself smitten by her emotional vulnerability and they begin a passionate love affair fueled by her sense of longing and his feelings of isolation. At some point, my widow will remark, “I never thought I would find someone with a heart like Brian’s.” (I believe this was also the basis for the character portrayed by Sean Penn in the film 21 Grams.)

5. That my well-tended organs will be distributed to someone whose own body was destroyed by their poor decision making and lack of self-control. Did I really choke down multi-vitamins and go to the doctor every year so that an alcoholic can get a back-up liver?

As funny as it sounds, these were very real concerns of mine and I struggled with the decision until one day I had an epiphany. Every single one of my concerns was based in nothing more than my own selfishness. Would I really be willing to withhold giving another human being a chance at life because of the infinitesimally small chance that the EEG machine is on the fritz or my liver might give someone struggling with addiction a second chance?

I decided that I cannot be that person. Over the past few years, I have had the privilege of getting to know someone whose life is held hostage by organ failure. While I contemplate my asinine problems, this person is wondering if they will receive a stranger’s donation in time and it humbles me in ways I cannot describe. In short, I am a whining, ungrateful wretch.

My friend is one of the thousands of mothers, fathers, sons and daughters who, for one reason or another, have to face a future with an asterisk beside it. I know that bequeathing your parts to strangers is not a decision to take lightly, but it at least deserves your heartfelt consideration. Besides, it is also a good time to ensure that your memorial service features the correct music. For instance, I have made it perfectly clear that if at any time my cadaver is exposed to Vince Gills “Go Rest High on That Mountain” I will relentlessly haunt my entire extended family. Paranormal Activity will seem like a church-camp skit compared to the psychological warfare that will be unleashed by my organless-phantasm.

If you want to find out more about organ donation, check out the following links:

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