Gift of Life Project Designed to Help Educate Public about Organ Donation

By Centrella, Heidi R. | THE JOURNAL RECORD, October 27, 2004 | Go to article overview

Gift of Life Project Designed to Help Educate Public about Organ Donation


Centrella, Heidi R., THE JOURNAL RECORD


More than 6,000 people in Oklahoma are waiting for an organ transplant. More than 85,000 are waiting nationwide.

Jocelyn Givens died in 2002 just before her 33rd birthday. She was the wife of Keith Givens and mother of then 4-year-old Sofia. She had battled kidney disease for more than seven years and was in need of a transplant. Unfortunately, hers didn't come in time.

Due to the severe shortage of donors and compatible organs, thousands of people just like Givens are dying each year, including more than 40 Oklahomans.

Inspired by Givens, the Oklahoma Bar Association Young Lawyers Division Gift of Life project seeks to educate and encourage more people to register as an organ donor.

Keith Givens, a local attorney, has worked since 1996 distributing informative brochures and books that educate the legal community and general public about the tragic shortage of donors.

Many people, he said, do not become donors due to common misconceptions they have regarding donation and how to become a donor. In an effort to eliminate these misconceptions, the Gift of Life Team volunteers designed a handbook, Organ and Tissue Donation Under Oklahoma Law, to address common fears and erroneous beliefs about becoming a donor. It also includes laws governing organ and tissue donation in Oklahoma and provides the steps donors need to take to ensure their wishes are carried out.

Among the many erroneous beliefs the group attempts to dispel in the handbook include the it's against my religion defense.

However, Givens found that from the Amish to the United Methodist groups - and practically every belief in between - organ and tissue donation is viewed with favor. The book also addresses frequently asked questions, such as how to become an organ donor among the following:

* Will I receive the same level of medical care if I am involved in an accident and my medical providers know I want to become a donor?

Yes. Organ and tissue donation is not even considered until every effort has been made to save a potential donor's life and brain death has been declared.

* Will my decision to donate any organs and/or tissue result in additional expenses to my family?

No.

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