A couple of days ago I blogged about signing up to become an organ donor, something I did last week. My conscience had been pricked by the results of research I’d carried out in preparation for a presentation in our Japanese language class.

We’d been given three topics to choose from: organ donation, blood donation, bone marrow donation.

The third option hadn’t fired my imagination, as it seemed somehow limited in scope (in fact, it was my ignorance of the life-saving potential of bone marrow transplants that led to my unfortunate disinterest). The presentation done, I was ready to forget about it.

Until fifteen minutes ago when I got an email from another student society at university:

Sheffield Marrow will be holding their annual Bone Marrow Awareness Week from
Monday 10th March – Saturday 15th March

Sheffield Marrow is a student run society at the University of Sheffield which is part of the national student-run outreach project of the Anthony Nolan Trust. We are a charitable organization and our three main objectives are to:
1. appoint people to the bone marrow register
2. fund-raise for the Anthony Nolan Trust
3. increase awareness of bone marrow transplants and the need for more donors

Intrigued, I paid a visit to the Anthony Nolan Trust web site. It was there, reading the accounts of those whose lives had been saved by donors, that I realised that I should absolutely be on this register.

Sure, by being an organ donor I can save lives …but that may not be for a while. I can (and will on Tuesday) give blood, and that’s groovy, but wow – here is yet another chance to give someone the most amazing gift they will ever receive – life. And what do I need to get on this register? A simple blood test. Easy as that.

Having read through their guidelines I find that unfortunately, I can’t add my name to their world-wide database until 2011, when I will have gone three years without an epileptic seizure. It’s not that epilepsy can be passed on through a bone marrow transplant, it’s the risk that I would have a seizure when coming round from the anaesthetic. So I’ve added it to my Google Calendar for 2011.

The thing that gets me about these three actions that I can take today to potentially save lives (register, give blood, register), is that I haven’t considered doing them before now. If those people who I could potentially save were right in front of me, about to be hit by a bus, I’m sure I would do my best to save them. But because they are somewhere else in space and time, I’ve never appreciated that by taking action today (signing a few forms and enduring a little discomfort) I could actually do exactly the same thing – and without even endangering my own life! To not do so out of laziness or disinterest feels, for me personally, pretty wrong. If I’d seen a child playing in the road and heard a bus approaching from around the corner and done nothing about it, I don’t think I would ever be able to justify having let them get run over because “I didn’t quite get around to picking them up”.

Ok, so that may be a bit of an extreme example, but at the end of the day, regardless of time and space, it’s about life and death. If there’s an easy way in which I can save someone’s life then I feel that it is my responsibility to do so.

2 Responses

  1. Inactivity regarding organ donation was actually the topic of our presentation this week. We looked at the fact that a lack of awareness-raising, an unwillingness to discuss such things with your family and a reluctance to consider your own death all contribute to people not even making a choice, just filing away organ donation as something they’ll think about some other day.

    Our final point was that it doesn’t matter if you decide to donate your organs or not, if you decide that the prospect makes you too uncomfortable or your parents are against it and you want to follow their wishes or if you’re a serious follower of Shinto and it’s actually against your religion, but that to actually think about it and make a decision one way or the other is a social responsibility, which I think you’ve expressed pretty neatly here.

    I’ve always intended to donate my organs, and have even made these wishes known to my parents, friends and partner should the occasion arise and any of them be required to make a quick decision. The one thing I hadn’t actually done was sign up officially – isn’t that bizarre? I did it when we were researching for this presentation, and actually felt nervous about clicking the button, as if I were inviting my own death – but if your only exposure to the concept of organ donation is through Hollywood and television, such a reaction is understandable.

    Why is this not discussed in schools? We could debunk the myths, demystify the procedure, encourage discussion and openness with family and friends and give kids at least two years to consider it before they’re legally old enough to sign up. Why is death acceptably viewed as a result of machine gun fire from a Hollywood star but utterly taboo as a gesture to save the life or quality of life of many others?

    I’m also giving blood on Tuesday, at 12.30pm. Have you made an appointment? We could go and wait together if it’s at the same time. Not quite as conventional as a cafe, but it’d do for a chat!

  2. Thanks for your comment Amelia.

    Yes, I agree, it would make a huge difference if we were educated about it at school.

    I’ll be feinting at 2.35pm on Tuesday, so will miss you by an hour or so 🙁

    Sorry for the briefness of this reply, my excuse is this dissertation!

    See you tomorrow.