Donate life - the ultimate gift
|Through the Looking Glass
By Leo Olivero
Just over 15 months ago Gibraltar responded to an urgent appeal to help a young Gibraltarian child with a very serious health condition.
Very few people can forget the case of baby Julian Baldachino. Practically the whole community was immobilised after hearing the heart-wrenching plea for help from the youngster's mother as she and her family agonizingly reached out for help which was given by the people of Gibraltar in such magnificent style.
The whole Baby Baldachino story for me raised one important issue, that of life? Because life and saving lives is what this week's article is all about!!
Organ Donation is not a subject that you don't really hear about or discuss, or is hardly aired in the local public, unless one of these, thankfully, rare cases as we had 15 months back suddenly hits local headlines.
But there are many local families who have had illnesses where a family member has required the replacement of a vital organ. Unfortunately I speak from a position of experience. Some years back a close family of mine was in this position, a life and death situation where he required one of these vital organs to be replaced, and although the necessary medical machinery was put in place both here and in the United Kingdom to find a suitable donor, it didn't come quick enough, and sadly this member of our family passed away in hospital over there.
There are families in Gibraltar who unfortunately encounter these medical and health horrors, where people are told that someone requires an organ to be replaced. Obviously depending on the organ that requires replacing the level of success in finding a donor is increased or not. This believe me, is such a traumatic experience, not only for the patient but for families to endure.
Which brings me to the main issue, that Gibraltar does not have an Organ Donation Programme of its own?
Organ Donation Programme
Do we need an Organ Donation Programme? Well, I cannot think of any reason why we shouldn't have one, and why Gibraltarians should not be given the choice to enter into a programme where they can decide to donate part of themselves after they have no further use for them, this to save another person's life, it could be too a family member or anyone who may be in need of this special gift of Life, a donation that can only be provided by a fellow Human Being!!
The conversation about Organ Donation can be difficult.
In many cases a living relative can save the life of a loved one by giving a kidney, but in other situations organs need to be taken from someone who has died.
This means such an important decision - one that can save several lives - is made by people who are in shock, traumatised because of a sudden death.
I am positive that there would be many Gibraltarians who would be willing to give or donate, but the system is not there to allow them registering as an organ donor.
The United Kingdom for instance has been at the forefront in streamlining the organ-donation process also for tissue donation, there are many professionals with specialised training working in trauma departments in the hospitals to manage organ donation.
There is also a debate running in the UK about changing the law which suggest that organ donation should no longer be a voluntary matter, they are looking at over there a situation where everyone will presume to have consented to have their organs donated, unless an individual actually states before hand that he or she does not wish for this to be the case, although this particular issue is still in its early debating rounds.
Personally, I have been a blood donor for many years, and would have no problem in signing up to donate bits of me, once of course my candle is blown out. Although I suspect that my long-abused bits of tripe will be worth about as much on the second hand market as my clamped out Honda Civic, but I could be wrong with these views of my magnificent (cough-cough) internal human machinery.
But imagine the convenience of having everything removed before your funeral. Suddenly you have achieved in death what you never quite managed in life - significant weight loss.
Despite all this, I hope to live long enough for medical science to have advanced to the stage where every ounce of dead little me, counts for something, whatever state it's in.
Although joking aside, Organ Donation is a very serious issue. If you are fortunate enough to be in good health there is absolutely no logical reason why anybody shouldn't grab the opportunity of possibly enabling others to avoid pain, suffering or even death.
I suppose in Gibraltar unless you have unfortunately been ill yourself or have had a family member in such dire medical trouble requiring an organ donation, this issue would have never crossed your mind.
Over the last few years I've always put off actually doing something positive about writing about this topic. A visit to the cemetery over the festive period brought back some unpleasant memories, and the possibility of someone or family out there actually going through such a medical nightmare where no one can help unless you are given the gift of life by someone?
'It Really is a Last Resort Situation for people who Need a Transplant of Some kind'
Issue that Requires More Awareness
Gibraltar I believe should consider setting up its own Organ Donation Programme, I do not know the nuts and bolts of establishing such a facility, but why cannot members of this community be given the opportunity to decide for themselves if they want to donate an organ to save a life.
I Certainly Feel there is a Need Locally to Raise Awareness about This Issue.
As a Community we know a fair bit about giving, our generosity has never been in doubt with weekly flag days, charity events and the many other numerous causes that are arranged to assist those who are more in need than ourselves, and in life and death situations.
Organ Donation I believe is taking all this to Another Level. 'Donating a Life' truly is the Greatest and Ultimate Gift you Could Give Anyone!
But to finish again on a lighter note, there are quite a few advantages in organ donation, and one is travel, yes, organ donations could get you around, it's a real bonus, I reckon?
A successful organ donor could really go places. One day, perhaps, my liver will be ski-ing in Chamonix, while my kidneys are sunbathing in Hawaii, and as for my lungs, well, they could be trekking along some mountain range in South America.
Organ Donation, Well, It's a No-Brainer as Far as I am Concerned!!!