Speech on Becoming an Organ Donor

I. Attention getting device: How many of you are registered organ donors? (Give them time to raise their hands) According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, as of November 18, 2012, 116,497 people are waiting for an organ, but only 74,374 of those people are active, meaning they can receive a transplant at any given time. 18 people will die each day waiting for one and one organ donor can save up to 8 lives. II. Thesis: The need is constantly growing for organ donors and it is very simple to become one.

Transplantation gives hope to thousands of people with organ failure and provides many others with renewed lives. III. Preview: Today, I am going to discuss what organ donation is, what organs can be donated, how it works, myths about organ donation, how to become an organ donor, and the benefits of being one. Hopefully after I have discussed these issues, you will realize how important this topic truly is and become one yourself and give the gift of life. IV. Credibility Statement: I myself am a registered organ donor, so this topic is of great importance to me. It has impacted me in a major way.

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My cousin had a son born with hydrocephalus and cerebral palsy. He died in early March, three days before his fifth birthday. My cousin made the heroic decision to donate some of his organs, and has thus far changed two peoples’ lives. Also, my mother was born with pancreas divisum, in which parts of the pancreas fail to join together. This defect has caused many complications throughout my mother’s life. Her father passed away from pancreatic cancer when he was 51, and my mom was informed that she may need a pancreas transplant in the future to prolong her life.

V. Topic relevance: I believe this is crucial for everyone in this room. Whether it’s you, a family member, or even a friend that needs a transplant, it is very important to be aware of the benefits of being an organ donor and realizing how many lives you can save. Life is short, and never guaranteed, so I believe we should do all we can to save as many lives as possible. Body I. Today, I will help all of you understand what it means to donate. a. There are two types of organ donations. 1. Being a deceased donor means your organs are donated after you have passed away.

a. According to Dana Lustbader, in 2011, in the Journal of Palliative Medicine, there are two types of donations after a person has passed away. 1. Donation after death by neurologic criteria occurs when a patient meets brain death criteria. 2. Donation after cardiac death occurs when a decision is made to discontinue mechanical ventilation and all other life-sustaining treatments or when a seriously ill patient is expected to die shortly after such treatments are stopped. 2. Being a living donor means your organs are donated while you are still alive, so the organs are obviously limited to which you can donate.

a. According to the United Network for Organ Sharing, the first successful living organ donation was performed in 1954between identical twins. Ronald donated a kidney to his twin brother Richard. Richard died eight years later due to causes unrelated to the transplant, and Ronald passed away in 2010. 3. You can be both. You can donate part of your organs when you are alive and donate the rest after you have passed away. 4. According to Klein and associates, in the American Journal of Transplantation, living donors were more popular than deceased donors from 2001-2003, but since then donation by deceased donors is more common.

Transition: I’m sure many of you are wondering what organs you can donate. II. The type of organs you can donate depends on what type of donor you are. 1. Since you are still living while being a living donor, you are restricted on the organs you can donate. a. According to Klein and associates, being a living donor, you can donate one kidney, one lung, and part of the liver, intestines, and pancreas. 2. After you have passed away, you can chose to donate your eyes and corneas, heart and heart valves, lungs, live, intestines, kidneys, pancreas, skin, bones, and tendons.

Transition: Once you decide what type of donor you want to be and what organs you choose to donate, it is important to know the process of how organ donations work. III. The process for living donors and deceased donors is different. a. According to Dana Lustbader, for deceased donations, the organs must be obtained within 60 minutes of death. The following process is for patients who suffer cardiac death. 1. First, doctors must inform families about what to expect during the cessation of life-sustaining treatments. Families should realize that the patient still receives quality care and symptom management when these treatments are ceased. . In order to prevent conflicts of interest, members of the organ recovery team should not be involved in the decision to discontinue life-support of the patient prior to the announcement of death. 3. Once consent is obtained and appropriate teams are ready, the discontinuation of life sustaining treatments begins. 4. All non-comfort medication is discontinued. 5. Declaration of death is based on hospital policy. 6. Following death declaration the patient is taken to the operating room where the organ recovery team begins removing the organs. 7. After the procedure, the body can have a burial ceremony or can be cremated.

This all depends on the patient’s wishes in the will and the patient’s family. b. The process for living donations is different due to the fact that the donor is still alive. 1. The living donor must first undergo a blood test to determine blood type compatibility with the recipient. 2. The donor must also give a urine test for kidney donations. 3. The donor must also undergo x-rays to make sure there are no heart or lung diseases. 4. The donor must undergo psychiatric evaluation to make sure they are mentally stable to handle the procedure and the recovery. 5. Final blood tests are done 48 hours before the surgery to make sure the donor has not created any antibodies that will attack the donated organ.

6. The donor is given a pamphlet explaining the steps they must take the night before the surgery and the morning of the surgery. 7. The donor will arrive at the hospital hours before their surgery to undergo normal testings, such as blood pressure and heart rate. 8. Once the pre-surgery steps are taken, the surgery will begin in the operating room. 9. Donors usually stay in the hospital 4-7 days after the procedure and resume normal activity within a month. 0. They will also have regular follow-up visits up to a year after the surgery. Transition: Maybe some of you have heard negative things about organ donations and that’s the reason why you aren’t a donor. IV. There are many myths about organ donation. According to the Mayo Clinic in August of 2012, the following are myths of organ donations. a. The hospital staff won’t work as hard to save my life if I agree to donate my organs. 1. The doctor’s focus is on saving your life. The doctor in charge of your care has nothing to do with the transplantation.

b. Maybe I won’t really be dead when they sign my death certificate. 1. People who have agreed to be an organ donor are given more tests to determine that they’re truly dead, than are those who aren’t organ donors. c. Organ donation is against my religion. 1. Organ donation is consistent with the beliefs of most religions. If you’re unsure, check the federal Web site, OrganDonor. gov, which provides religious views on organ donation and transplantation by denomination. d. I’m under age 18. I’m too young to make this decision. 1. At a legal standpoint, this is true. But your parents can authorize this decision.

As I mentioned earlier, my 5 year old cousin had his heart valves and his skin donated, by the consent of his mother. e. An open-casket funeral isn’t an option for people who have donated organs or tissues. 1. Organ and tissue donation doesn’t restrict having an open-casket funeral. The donor’s body is clothed for burial, so there are no visible signs of organ or tissue donation. f. I’m not in the best of health. Nobody would want my organs or tissues. 1. Very few medical conditions inevitably disqualify you from donating organs. Strict medical criteria are considered before an organ is sed for donation. g. My family will be charged if I donate my organs. 1. The organ donor’s family is never charged for donating. The family is only charged for the efforts to save the donor’s life. The transplant family is charged with the organ removal. Transition: Now that you know more about what organ donation is and how it works, some of you may want to make the decision to become one today. V. I will inform you about the process of becoming an organ donor. a. I’m sure some of you are wondering who can donate. 1. All people, regardless of their age are eligible to donate.

Although, you have to be 18 or older to make that decision for yourself. For instance, a 15 year old who has recently passed away can be an organ donor, with the consent of his or her parents. 2. No one is too old or too young. Both newborns and senior citizens have been organ donors. 3. People with medical conditions may also be organ donors. When the time arises, doctors will evaluate the organ that is needed to make sure it is healthy enough to be transplanted. 4. Organ and tissue donations are needed from people of all areas. Doctors do not discriminate based on race. For example, according to organdonor. ov, in 2012, 35% of people on the kidney transplant list are African American. b. There are more requirements for living donors. 1. First, in order to be a living donor, one must be in good physical and mental health. 2. One must be free from high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, HIV, hepatitis, or organ-specific diseases. 3. Have no alcohol or substance abuse problems. 4. Have psychiatric diagnoses well controlled over an extended period of time. 5. Donors must review and sign a written living donor informed consent form that informs the donor of all aspects and potential outcomes of the procedure.

c. Now that you are aware of who can donate, I will explain the steps to become an organ donor. 1. The process of donation occurs when people indicate their consent to be a donor by enrolling in their state’s donor registry. Most often this happens when you renew your Driver’s license, but you can also do this online, as some states have online registry. Illinois has this. Once you register, your Driver’s license or state license will have an organ donor symbol on it and your name will be in the system. 2. You can also choose which organs you want to have donated. I explained my cousin donating her son’s organ earlier.

She chose to have his heart valves and skin donated, but refused to have his eyes donated. It is all up to the donor. 3. I also encourage you to tell your family you want to become an organ donor when you pass away, so they can support your decision when needed. If they do not know your wishes of becoming a donor, your wishes may never be carried out. 4. Include being an organ donor in your will as well, so everyone is aware of your decision when final decisions are being made. Transition: Before any of you decide to become an organ donor, it is important for you to realize the benefits that exist when you become one.

VI. There is a severe need for organs and tissues in the United States. a. There are 86 million registered donors, but there are still so many people on the waiting list. This is because not everyone on the registered donor list can donate due to physical or mental problems. b. The major benefit of donating an organ is the fact that you are saving another person’s life. You are not only changing the person’s life you donate the organ to, but you are changing their family and friends’ lives as well. You can save lives alive or dead.

c. Organ donation also helps further medical research. Doctors are better able to understand diseases that affect the human body. Summary I. Summary: Today, I have discussed organ donation. I informed you about what organ donation is, what organs can be donated, how it works, myths about organ donation, how to become an organ donor, and the benefits of being one. Hopefully you have realized how important this topic truly is. II. Closure: The gift of life is the most amazing gift anybody could ever give. I became a donor, because there will be no use for my organs after I ass away. I have also seen how big of an impact my cousin Evan made on two families. I also think about my mother and how she might need a pancreas transplant in the future. I would not want my organs to go to waste, and neither should you. I encourage all of you to do your own research and consider what I have said today. I will end with a quote from an unknown author, “Don’t think of organ donations as giving up part of yourself to keep a total stranger alive. It’s really a total stranger giving up almost all of themselves to keep part of you alive. ”


The United Network for Organ Sharing. (2012). Web site, http://www.unos.org.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2012). Organdonor.gov: Donate the Gift of Life. Web site, http://www.organdonor.gov/index.html.

A. O. Ojo, et al. “Organ Donation and Utilization In The United States, 1999–2008.” American Journal of Transplantation 10.4 (2010): 973-986.

Mayo Clinic (2012). Organ Donation: Don’t Let These Myths Confuse You. Web site, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/organ-donation/FL00077

Lustbader, Dana, and Michael J. Goldstein. “Organ Donation after Cardiac Death #242.” Journal of Palliative Medicine 14.8 (2011): 966-967.

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