CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- My husband, Geoff, and I recently participated in a focus group assembled to gather opinions about organ donation while also reviewing a proposed advertising campaign on the same subject.
As the group's leader set up his display of three proposed advertising slogans, Geoff leaned over and whispered, "Why are they asking us? Isn't their target market ... well ... dead?"
I shushed him and tried to be serious. Succeeded for nearly a minute. Couldn't resist jotting down a slogan of my own and sliding it over to Geoff.
"See the world through new eyes -- your neighbor's."
All joking aside, Geoff and I realized how tough it would be to try to find ways to promote a subject most people don't want to think about, much less make an effort to do something about.
The leader explained some of the many reasons people give for not registering to become a donor. Some believe it's against their religion (all major religions in the U.S. support organ, eye and tissue donation, viewing it as the final act of love and generosity toward others); some fear there are costs involved (there are no costs whatsoever to the donor's family); or that when doctors realize the person is a donor, they won't make as valiant an effort to keep them alive (a doctor's priority is to save lives, and organ donation can only be considered after brain-death occurs; moreover, the medical care team is completely different from the transplant team).
Some believe they're too old (there's no defined cutoff age for donating organs) or that a preexisting illness precludes them from being a viable donor (few medical conditions disqualify one from donating organs).
Most think simply checking the box on their driver's license is enough. Sometimes it is. Often it's not. The designation does not always satisfy each state's requirements for being a donor.
I'd registered to become a donor many years ago, signing up with the Living Bank in deference to my favorite uncle, Edgar Frankwich, who lived an extra decade, thanks to his transplanted heart.