More than 120,000 people are still waiting for an organ donor, according to organdonor.gov.Susan Vieira, 64, got a second chance at life thanks to the heart of a Chico State student, and vowed to do
everything she can to ensure her donor’s dreams don’t go unfulfilled.
Last September, Kristina Chesterman, a 21-year-old nursing student, died after being hit by a drunken driver while riding home on her bicycle.
Chesterman chose to be an organ donor, and since then five people have been saved, Vieira being one of them.
I’ve always been interested in helping people, from checking the donor box at the DMV, to giving blood at school. I’ve done what I can to make a difference.
I underwent my own personal health issues this year; my gallbladder had to be removed. Lucky for me, this organ isn’t vital for my survival. However, some people aren’t as lucky as I was.
An average of 47 percent of people nationwide will register to become a donor, according to New York Organ Donor Network. Such a small percentage of donors might be caused by some common misconceptions.
Some believe that doctors won’t work as hard to save the lives of organ donors. In reality, when someone goes to the hospital for any sort of treatment, doctors will focus on saving that individuals life, not someone else’s.
Others think they won’t have the option to have an open casket. In fact, organ and tissue donation doesn’t interfere with having an open-casket funeral. The body is clothed for burial, so there are no visible signs of donation.
Lastly, some think that their organs are probably no good anyway, because of their lifestyle, age or health problems. Each person’s medical condition is evaluated at the time of their death to determine what organs and tissues are viable for donation. People living with chronic diseases or those who have a history of cancer or other serious diseases are still encouraged to join the donor registry.
I look at it as a waste when people aren’t donors, especially when there are thousands of people waiting to have their second chance at life. Simply educating oneself about a topic more before assuming can change a whole perspective.
Even after her death, Chesterman’s legacy continues to live on. Not only in the hearts of those who knew and loved her, but also in the lives of those she’s since saved.
Veronica De La Cruz can be reached at [email protected] or @Veronica_dlc on Twitter.