“It all makes sense now” I say aloud to myself while reading about organ donation on page 75 of Carla Valentine’s book Past Mortems: Life and Death Behind Mortuary Doors.
‘The rationale was simple: come Judgment Day, when the dead were to be raised from the Earth to stand (according to the Bible), there was no chance of being let in if you were in four chunks, or missing parts of yourself and dripping all over the place like a leaky rubbish bag. Apparently, no one wanted Heaven to look like the waiting room in Beetlejuice. Being dissected was the Christian equivalent of not getting into the club because you aren’t wearing a tie. The negative associations with human dissection, organ donation, plastination and even cremation that are still evident today are in part a hangover from that particular religious fear‘
I’m an organ donor because I love the fact that even though I’ll be dead I can save multiple lives and also because I’ll be dead… I don’t need my organs.
The talk of organ donation came up during my brain surgery, my mum was shocked to learn this and she did not want me to be a donor… I grew up as a Christian because my parents were Christian and I didn’t enjoy church (so much so that one Sunday mum slept in so my siblings and I were really quiet as to not wake her because we didn’t want to go to church, we ate cereal and put the TV on super quiet) I don’t remember when I stopped going to church or if I even spoke up about my religious views but one day I just stopped being a forced Christian and am now an atheist. I truly believe that when I die that’s it, there’s no after life, no heaven, no hell, nothing… I’m gone forever, both in life and in death.
Given this belief, I don’t need my organs at all and if it comes to the point where I’m slowly dying I want my organs to be used for the greater good. Even my skin, some people are a little creeped out by this and I was at one point until I discovered that cadaver skin can be used to treat burn victims. When my brother was younger he was in an accident where he suffered severe burns and had to have multiple skin grafts using his own skin. I wouldn’t wish that pain and trauma upon anyone.
‘Donated skin can help prevent infection, reduce pain and maintain body temperature. Patients with severe burns do not initially reject cadaver skin, because their immune systems are suppressed, Dr. Bessey said.‘
So despite what anyone else thinks, including my family I want to be an organ donor. It’s my body, it’s my life, it’s my death and it’s my chance to do something truly amazing. I don’t want religious beliefs that I 100% don’t agree with getting in the way of that. However, after looking on the official NHS organ donation website I think my mum could have overruled my decision because I didn’t let her know?
‘If your decision is not clear, we will ask the person closest to you what they think you wanted. You should make sure they know your views on donation.’
This is a brilliant little scene in the medical show Grey’s Anatomy where they show the benefits of organ donation:
What are your opinions on organ donation?