Justin Wilson, the NASCAR car driver who died Monday as a result of a freak accident at Pocono Raceway was, by all accounts, one of the good guys. As word of his passing spread, tributes began to flow in from both inside and outside the racing world. Many people had been touched by Justin’s life. He was a spouse and father of two young girls, and highly respected for his work on the track and in the community.
Normally, once news of a death like this hits, that’s the end of the story. In this case, however, the story isn’t even close to over. Soon after his passing was announced, we learned that Wilson’s good works continued even after his death.
The 37-year old British driver was an organ donor. Through a tweet from his brother, Stefan, we heard that Wilson’s organ donation had saved six lives.
“It sums up who he was; he’s touching people he doesn’t even know, and it shows what kind of person Justin Wilson was,” said Stefan, who was with his brother when he passed. “We lost him yesterday, and it’s one of those tough questions that come up afterwards. He carried a donor card, they asked us, and we clarified that he wanted to donate. It’s a tough thing to consider; you want him to be whole, but it’s something he’d discussed with Julia and we honored what he wanted and went ahead with it.”
“And now six families have received an incredible gift,” he continued. “Knowing the impact it had, I’m all for it and so glad we did that. His organs are saving some people right now; it’s amazing. It makes his life more powerful.” Read the full story
There is no way to understand the grief those who were personally touched by Justin are feeling over his loss. We can only hope that his family and friends experience some comfort in knowing that his death saved lives. That is truly a legacy worth having.
To help pass Justin Wilson’s legacy on, we are taking a moment to share information regarding organ donation. We hope that this information will help you decide if organ donation is right for you. If so, we urge you to take the steps necessary to make this happen when the comes. If you decide to donate but don’t have the necessary authorizations in place, your wishes could go unfulfilled.
Facts & Figures
Several groups provide statistical information relating to organ donation. Two key groups are the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the United Network for Organ Donation. The following information was reported on the Donate Life America website and comes from UNOS data.
- More than 123,000 men, women and children currently need lifesaving organ transplants.
- Every 10 minutes another name is added to the national organ transplant waiting list.
- Sadly, an average of 21 people die each day because the organs they need are not donated in time.
- In 2014, more than 8,500 deceased donors made possible approximately 24,000 organ transplants. In addition, there were nearly 6,000 transplants from living donors.
- Nearly 48,000 sight-restoring corneal transplants were performed in the U.S. in 2014.
- Each year, approximately 30,000 tissue donors save and heal lives.
- More than 1 million tissue transplants are done each year and the surgical need for tissue has been steadily rising.
- According to research, 98% of all adults have heard about organ donation and 86% have heard of tissue donation.
- 90% of Americans say they support donation, but only 30% know the essential steps to take to be a donor.
Myths versus Facts (from dmv.org)
- You can’t be an organ donor if you are very young or very old.
Age won’t keep you from becoming a donor. If you are 18 or younger, your parents will need to give their consent before you’re able to register. You’re never too old to decide to become a donor. Your organs and tissues will be evaluated at the time of death to determine their suitability for donation.
- If you’re not in great health, you shouldn’t sign up to be a donor.
You might be surprised to learn that most health conditions won’t disqualify you from donating your organs and tissues. While you may not be able to donate certain organs, other organs and/or tissues may be perfectly fine. Qualified medical professionals will assess your organs at the time of death to determine their suitability for donation.
- Your family will be charged when your organs and tissues are donated.
The family of an organ donor is only charged for the medical procedures performed in the attempt to save the donor’s life. Costs associated with post-mortem procedures associated with organ donation are not passed down to the donor’s family.
- Doctors don’t work with the same urgency to save your life if they know you’re an organ donor.
Many people are concerned that if they sign up to be an organ donor, they won’t get the same level of care should they end up in a life or death situation. However, this is not true. Your doctor is obligated to have one singular aim: to save your life.
- If you are a registered donor, a doctor might declare you dead before it’s appropriate.
This is a common myth that scares many people out of registering to donate. However, the opposite is actually true. Organ donors are given more tests to determine official death than those patients who haven’t agreed to organ donation.
- Most religions don’t condone organ donation.
Most major religions allow organ donation. If you are unsure of whether organ donation is consistent with your faith, you may wish to speak with a religious leader for clarification.
- If you donate organs or tissues, you can’t have an open-casket funeral.
Organ and tissue donation does not keep you from having an open-casket funeral if that’s your preference. Because donors’ bodies are clothed for burial, you won’t see signs of the donation.
- If you are rich or famous, you’ll be given priority on the waiting list for an organ.
Money and celebrity have no bearing on who gets an organ first. Factors considered are time spent on the waiting list, severity of your condition, blood type, other pertinent medical considerations.
- Doctors will take all of your organs, even if you only want to donate one.
You can specify which organs you are willing to donate. Only the organ(s) you identify will be donated.
- Organs are sold on the black market.
There are many urban legends involving frightening tales of organs being stolen and sold for profit. The process of donation is so complex and medically involved that this is not actually viable.