Dacawi: Strengthening organ donation


AMONG items on the status of organ donation in this country, I gathered through the Internet this announcement from the Philippine Red Cross that it is venturing into this life-saving business. More often than not, it seems efforts on this are pronouncements than results, as is the case in Third World countries like ours.

I’m into dialysis for three years now but have no temerity to open up, to ask any of my relatives to consider donating a kidney to save me from years of expensive and time-consuming blood-cleansing through the dialysis machine four times a week.

The reason is culture. Many of us Ifugaos, and Igorots in general, still consider blood-letting, a simple life-saving procedure, as “lawa” (bad). When my youngest brother Manuel, a woodcarver who did not pursue formal education, was killed in a stabbing incident, some of our relatives who were at the funeral parlor told me to tell the embalmer to let all his organs intact. They were more concerned of keeping his body intact than getting the results of autopsy.

Beyond the dictates of “ugali,” the Philippines still has a long way to go in saving millions through organ donation. The latest I read from the maze of articles on the subject from the internet was an undated news release from the Philippine Red Cross announcing it was going into an organ donation campaign.

“(Department of Health) records reveal that only 36 people have managed to (donate their organs) last year as compared to Spain, the largest organ donor country worldwide, which registered a total of 1,360 organ donors that same period.”

This pronouncement, when set into motion, is what this country needs beyond the present practice of the Land Transportation Office of indicating on driver’s licenses they issue which parts of his/her body would be “harvested” for transplant in case of accidents.

The issue is how to tap people who may not be drivers but who the Department of Health should convince to also donate their organs in case they figure in fatal accidents. Where do non-drivers register as potential donors of eyes, hearts, kidneys, livers and tissues.

The issue is how to connect would-be organ donors to a network with potential recipients of body parts to facilitate transplant, a system already in place in the United States and other advanced countries.

Unless a system is in place, as the Philippine Red Cross announced on establishing the same, it would remain difficult for us ailing Filipinoes to hope for a transplant here.

That’s the reason why I wrote basketball legend Lebron James. I asked him, in a Hail Mary shot, if he could sponsor me for a kidney transplant in the United States.

It’s a long shot, I know, but I had to write him so that I would have something to hope for. For their words prodding me on, I’m grateful to a lot of Filipinos here and abroad who reacted kindly to my attempt. For whatever the present difficulties I face, life is still beautiful and should be lived.

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