To the Editor:
Re: What You Lose When You Sign that Donor Card — 3/10/2012, contrary to Mr. Teresi's assertions, organ donors and their families actually gain from the experience. Deceased donation usually results from an unexpected death and often, the donor is a youth in the prime of life who suffered trauma due to injury or accident. The National Kidney Foundation works to support donor families and many report that the knowledge that as many as seven people were given a second chance because of their loved one is the only way they can reconcile themselves to an otherwise "senseless death" and helps immeasurably with grieving.
Organ donation is a social trust—a commitment from a family at the most tragic time in their lives to help someone else in need. The medical community does not take this lightly. Modern science continues to inform the processes surrounding donation with noble intent, not maltreatment. Organs are recovered for transplantation upon brain death or as donation after cardiac death. The Institute of Medicine has examined brain death several times in the last decade and the American Academy of Neurology has provided an update to its evidence-based guideline on this topic. This broad-based assessment reinforces our best practice in this field. At a time when there are 113,000 Americans on the national waiting list for transplants and 18 people dying every day while waiting, those who wish to save lives through donation should be encouraged.
Bryan Becker, MD
National Kidney Foundation Immediate Past President