I have a confession to make. Despite my love of science and my atheism I wasn't an organ donor until a couple of years ago when my girlfriend figuratively slapped me in the face with my hypocrisy.
Despite how useful I think organ donation is and the fact I know I won't need any of my organs or tissues when I have ceased to exist, something about the whole enterprise freaks me out. I also don't give blood but that's for a separate reason (see Trypanophobia; seriously, I'll pass out every time).
Still, I made the switch. I went to the secretary of state (the Michigan equivalent of the DMV) and filled out the form. A few weeks later they gave me a little heart sticker with "Donor" to slap on the front of my driver's license. This has led to some interesting situations like the time the guy I was buying a tripod from at Radio Shack asked for my license to verify my credit card info and as I handed him my license said "Thank you. And thanks for being a donor!"
It's no joke that organs are a serious need in our country. Many people waiting for a transplant -- perhaps as high as 18% -- die waiting. Countries like the U.S. rely on the good-naturedness of people to populate the organ donation registry. That is, people have to "opt-in." Other countries, like Spain, have an "opt-out" policy. Until recently, I thought that those were the only possible options.
Israel has recently enacted a third option and I am sure that many countries will watch its effects closely to determine whether or not to enact a similar policy themselves. In Israel's new system, people who have agreed to be organ donors are given priority over non-donors in the event that they are in need of an organ.
It seems that initially, this law has been very successful as the number of donors has skyrocketed. Of course, this sort of system requires that a certain portion of the population still reject organ donation in order for the people who have opted-in to feel they have gotten something for their dollar...er, organ (if everyone signs up priority means nothing).
I'm assuming I am not alone in my (previous) reservations against donation and I assume that this is also true in Israel, if not more common -- many people have interpreted Jewish law proscribing desecration of one's corpse as also incorporating organ donation. So, I suspect that a small opposition does and will continue to exist. Time will tell though.
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