Organ transplantation as a scientific and medical method in treating patients have become successful and popular over the years. However, repositories of human organs have faced shortage while demand for organ replacement becomes mandatory for some families dealing with patients diagnosed with an organ-related disease. Such trend also has increased over time. It is a common problem for immediate family members looking to keep the concerned patient alive and to survive the effects of organ diseases. For some family members and health beneficiaries, finding a generous and wholehearted organ donor can be both tedious and time-consuming. It may take months/years, to have the ailing internal part of the human body replaced. According to the recent statistics by National Kidney Foundation (2014), there are 123,175 people in the waiting list for organ transplants in the United States, and 101,170 of those patients are waiting for kidney transplants. Judging from the statistics, only less than 20,000 kidney patients have received transplants over the year. Due to the low turnover of organ transplantation, it may be a sign that such act is becoming dormant due to some known ethical, health, and financial aspects. Encouraging donation of human organs by raising public awareness on the importance of donating organs are main solutions in addressing the shortage of human organs. However, different factors will be considered in determining if a specific solution should be allowed and considered as accepted practices in encouraging human organ donation.
Doctors and families of patients can help in offsetting organ donor shortages by turning to medications and innovation of regenerative medicine as a first step. Families must rely on the vigilance of medical teams in finding signs and symptoms attributed to the organ-related disease within their patient up to the treatment stage. Organ diseases may not be totally prevented as its effects could linger and could eventually result in regressive deterioration/organ failure. Organ regeneration through tissue engineering can be a solution in restoring the ailing state of organs to its normalcy. Dr. Paolo Macchiarini, director of Advanced Center for Translational Regenerative Medicine, already had previous works on repairing damaged windpipes through surgical means by using the patient’s stem cells (Fountain, 2012). His team has done its first with patient Claudia Castillo on 2008 and Christopher Lyles on 2012. Research on organ regeneration has progressed over time. However, opportunity is still limited as further research and study are required on this regard. Regardless, the patient could only undergo regenerative procedures through surgery depending on its body’s conditions. Through surgeries regenerative procedures, there is always a chance that an organ replacement might not be necessary as the disease can be curable or preventable.
In resolving organ donation shortages, the incentive aspect should come into play. Convincing people to donate their organ in an unconditional manner is very difficult, unless there is a sense of sentiment and that “personal need” involved. However, some people would not pass on the opportunity of earning beneficial incentives – even if it involves giving their internal organ to the needy. Most black markets around the world sell organs, and it is quickly becoming an accepted practice among interested parties. However, such practices have been the subject of scrutiny. Proponents aim to save the lives of patients and critics retain their stance see that an altruist act must be prevalent when donating organs (Peetchuk, 2006). Legalizing organ donation is also becoming prevalent in other parts of the world. Countries such as Singapore, Iran and Israel have placed measures on how citizens could earn incentives such as money and health insurance by partaking in organ donation activities (Tabarrok, 2012). This particular solution has a setback though, as the donor could linger from the physical and psychological effects of giving away his organ. The donor might have earned a sum of money, but have lost a part that keeps him from living a healthy life. Just as the medical attention being placed on the organ recipients, donors also deserve a credit for taking personal sacrifice regardless if it is conditional or unconditional upon a person.
Giving rewards to organ donors involving financial matters may still raise doubts from a moral and medical standpoint. It may cause many aspects related to the moral attitude and well-being of the organ donor to be affected negatively. Thus, there may be a need in providing guidance and support towards organ donors. Robson et al (2010) cites the importance of communities and medical sectors approaching the issue of organ donation positively and objectively, and ethical, social, and religious issues should be a matter of decision-making, but not a hurdle in organ transplantation. It is particularly important to have a sense of agreement and counseling within situations for proponents to accept resulting actions in a moral and ethical manner. Before a person should willfully/forcibly donate a specific organ, he/she may require any form of guidance from relatives, doctors, and concerned proponents for consent and decision-making procedures. Satel and Hippen (2008) cites many ways to reward organ donors, and one way involves providing lifelong health insurance, receiving quality health care through careful medical and psychological screening. Incentives for organ donors could come in a package including lifetime benefits, and it may not involve quick cash. Governments and organizations just need to put emphasis on supporting organ donors for their act of giving.
There may be political motives in lieu to organ donation. Consequently, the government should at least have its part on providing both short-term and long-term assistance for organ donors by efforts of legalization. Thus, enacting laws and setting guidelines aimed at increasing the stream of organ donations. Political and medical organizations across the world continue to work together on putting emphasis to organ donation as an accepted practice. However, some critics may see the involvement of politics in organ donation as an act of taking control upon something by force. Carney (2007) specifically pointed out the issue of surrendering the rights of families upon brain-dead organ donors, and mandating families to turn over these organs by force could stir protests and become a subject of unpopular public opinion. Turning over human organs from brain-dead people as an obligation further increases the repository of organs donated. However, political involvement in organ donations could affect cultural norms and related medical practices.
Regardless of the prevalence of issues contradicting the idea of organ donation and organ transplantation, the act still deems charitable. Organ donation is a major issue amongst family members whose patients are inching closer to death, as they would have to make efforts in staying alive. Governments, communities, health-focused organizations, and individuals are doing their best to encourage common and creative ways in organ transfusion. Advances in medical science on organ transplantation and replacement are very limited as of the moment, and it might be best to stick with known solutions on replacing soon-to-be-defunct organs. Addressing the shortage of organ donations also comes with a sacrifice, as nobody knows what kind of future that the organ donor may have. Nevertheless, organ donors should receive proper nurturing – albeit under fair regulations and accepted conditions in order to encourage the worth of a charitable act of donating a vital part of an internal anatomy. It is difficult to ensure constant donation of organs, given the demand from families of ill patients. However, continued cooperation amongst concerned parties can stabilize the trend.
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