Hallowe’en: You Don’t Need Your Organs When You’re Dead!

Hallowe’en (or Halloween, if you prefer) is an occasion for dressing up in often-ghoulish costumes, traditionally rooted in a season of the year in which the dead are remembered. What could be more appropriate, then, than to remind people that you don’t need your organs when you’re dead!

Maybe more people don’t register to donate their organs precisely because it is a ghoulish thing to contemplate. After all, even though a kidney, a portion of the liver or a lobe of the lung can potentially be donated from a living donor, for the most part organ donations come from the deceased. To my mind, though, that makes it particularly appropriate to think about organ donation during Hallowe’en when we have ghosts and other manifestations of the dead wandering around our neighbourhoods.

And just to tie organ donation into spookiness a bit more let me mention a couple of myths that may needlessly scare people away from being an organ donor, or alternatively, inspire a particularly macabre Hallowe’en costume:

Myth 1: If I agree to donate my organs, the hospital staff won’t work as hard to save my life.

Fact: When you go to the hospital for treatment, doctors focus on saving your life — not somebody else’s.

Myth 2: Maybe I won’t really be dead when they sign my death certificate.

Fact: Although it’s a popular topic in the tabloids, in reality, people don’t start to wiggle their toes after they’re declared dead. In fact, people who have agreed to organ donation are given more tests to determine that they’re truly dead than are those who haven’t agreed to organ donation.

Myth 3: I’ve heard about a business traveler who is heavily drugged, then awakens to find he or she has had one kidney (or sometimes both) removed for a black market transplant.

Fact: This tale has been widely circulated over the Internet. There is absolutely no evidence of such activity ever occurring in the US or any other industrialized country. While the tale may sound credible, it has no basis in the reality of organ transplantation. Many people who hear the myth probably dismiss it, but it is possible that some believe it and decide against organ donation out of needless fear.

For inspiration, here are a few images you could use to augment your costume and get an important message across. Thanks to @ProgramMan and @TheChrisSixGrou for a conversation on Twitter for inspiring this train of thought, by the way.

Donatelife Jackolanterndonor Keepcalmandregister recyclablesinside recyle-organs-300x300 registerasorgandonor

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