Thursday, May 03, 2012

Facebook, Organ Donation, and TMI

Facebook and Organ Donation? Not on my page!

Facebook recently launched a new feature that makes it easier for users to register as organ donors. While I support Facebook's efforts to bring awareness to the need for organ donors and respect the initiative to utilize technology to increase participation in donor recruitment, I just can't get on board with it.

Maybe because it's too personal. My organ donor status is private, as are my wishes for my end of life care. My husband knows my wishes... preferences that have been finely honed during my time as a nurse caring for the critically ill and dying. And he knows where I stand on organ and tissue donation.

I have seen death. I have seen it come suddenly, a 50 meter dash to the finish. I have seen it come slowly, approaching for months, 26.2 miles of relentless pounding until it crashes into completion. I have seen families consent to donation. I have seen families turned down from donation. And never, ever, has death felt like winning a race. It has always felt anti-climactic. Empty.

I have cared for patients who have received a life-saving transplant. I have seen them days, weeks, months, and even years after they receive their organ. I have cleaned their incisions, emptied their drains, and administered handfuls of anti-rejection medications. I have been their in the intimate moments when they wonder if transplantation was even worth it... if death might have been easier, less painful. I have held their hands and dragged them towards the big red ribbon when they were convinced they could not finish their marathon of illness and (hopeful) recovery.

There are many who chose not to donate their organs. Some for religious reasons. Some as a quiet objection to the way adult organs are distributed. One patient told me he simply didn't want to leave this world hollow.

There can be nothing more intimate, truly, than organ donation. It is literally dealing with your inner most self. And asking you to share your donor status on Facebook is grotesquely revealing. Some things are private. In my opinion, organ donation (or choosing to abstain from donation) is one of them. It's not meant for an app.

Because organ donation always involves death. And a messy part of (hopeful) life. And all that grey area of what happens to us after we die. Is the race over once we cross the finish line? Does the red ribbon signal a beginning or an ending? After the years of running, is completion a hollow victory, or a fulfilling springboard into more? No, death is not meant for an app. Not even a Zuckerberg app. It's much more than that.


scooping it up said...

i love that you shared your perspective. i think it's beautiful. i don't feel as strongly as you do about it being inappropriate per se, i think it being out there makes folks thinking about and considering it when maybe it was not on their radar at all previously, whether they choose to consent to be a donor or not, that they have thought about it now is a good thing.

Eryka said...

I agree, I'm very thankful for your perspective. It's a perspective I wouldn't have thought of, especially when I first saw that app. My gut response was, "oh another app. no thanks." but your point is very well taken. some things are private and intimate. Not to be shared with the world of FB.

Mandalina said...

I like how you expressed your opinion. There really does seem to be an app for everything. And I agree, that is not one I would endorse. I do feel organ and tissue donation information and education should be something talked about more or at least more in the public eye. Often the conversation happens too late. You're right, it is very personal. And it is a topic that deserves more time to be explored.

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