Public Organ Donation Policies a Failure

organ donationDespite concerted efforts by state and federal agencies to encourage organ donation, many in place since the 1980’s, organ donation rates have remained stagnant.  Those in need of organ donations still find themselves waiting, and often losing the battle against time, even though personal training can help.  Despite a state-by-state push for more widespread donations, something that eventually spread to include the entire nation, neither the rate of donation nor number of transplants performed has markedly increased in decades.

What Programs

Since the late 80’s, there have been numerous programs designed to increase awareness of the need of more organ donors and even provide incentives for those who donate.  State ID’s and driver’s licenses now generally indicate whether someone is a donor.  Families are encouraged to discuss donation and end of life choices with their next of kin.  Even elementary school children are taught about the need for donors and the benefits of donation.

All to little if any avail.

What’s Worked

The only donations that have substantively improved over the last few decades have to do with finances.  States have given their citizens the options to donate to organ donation funds, which help offset the numerous and extensive costs of receiving an organ transplant.  Increases in donations to these funds have equated to about 8-15 additional transplants per state per year, depending upon whether the organ donor is deceased or living.

While this benefit can’t be discounted, the bottom line is that without organs to transplant, the program is failing needy potential recipients.

So, What to Do?

The problem is that there is no universally accepted consensus regarding how to increase the percentage of donor organs available.  Despite being a highly effective treatment, with success rates for organ donation procedures getting better every day, you can’t force or even compel someone to donate their organs or the organs of their deceased loved-ones.

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The ethics are simply too shady and passions too heated on either side.  For everyone waiting in anguish for a donor organ to save their loved-one’s life, there is someone on the other side who just lost a loved one and who must make the heart-wrenching decision whether or not to donate their viable organs.

Even living organ donation is a very big deal for donor.  Going without a kidney or giving up part of a liver for a perfect stranger is a huge sacrifice.

Professionals who deal with the implications of organ donation or lack thereof every day are calling for reform in policies.  So far, unfortunately, there’s no consensus as to what that entails.

Still not convinced? Watch the video below:

Another Breastfeeding Benefit

breastfeedingAs if we didn’t already know that breastfeeding gives our babies the healthiest start in life, yet another reason to let the little one latch on was just released by JAMA Pediatrics.  Namely, that children who were breastfed as infants have a markedly lower instance of childhood leukemia.  One of the most common childhood cancers (it accounts for roughly 30% of all childhood cancers), leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow and can be utterly devastating.

Leukemia Rates

Terrifyingly enough, just under 200,000 per year around the globe are diagnosed with one form of leukemia or another.   Shockingly, this number applies to little ones under the age of 15 alone.   It is quite rare when compared to some other cancers, but it’s still the second-leading cause of death for kids under 15 in the US.  Only accidents kill more of our youth, and this takes into account advancements in treatments, too.

There are a few risk factors for the disease that medical science has identified.  However, by and large most of the afflicted children don’t have any known risk factors at all, and diagnosis’s can be shocking and devastating.

The Study

According to the recently published study, simply nursing your infant for six months or longer can reduce their risk of contracting childhood leukemia by almost 20%.  This reduction is only applicable if you nurse for at least six months.  However, infants that were nursed at all had an 11% reduction in their instance of developing the deadly disease.

This means that any time you devote to breast feeding your little one can be time spent preserving their future health.

Breast Milk a Superfood

baby milk bottleIf you’re a human infant, you are designed to subside on human breast milk.  It’s that simple.  Evolution has dictated that it’s the perfect comprehensive food source for our little ones.  The AAP and WHO recommend that infants receive breast milk exclusively for the first six months of their lives.  It contains not just every nutrient they need, but boosts their immunity, reduces inflammatory responses, and overall provides innumerable health benefits we’re only beginning to fully understand.

While this is the first study of its kind to tout the direct link between breast feeding and leukemia prevention, it mirrors many other studies that have clearly demonstrated the benefits of nursing.  No one can argue that supplementary infant formula has saved the lives and health of countless infants since its creation, but the breast clearly is the best.